After showing a notable turnaround over the course of the previous session, stocks are likely to see some further upside in early trading on Thursday. The futures are currently indicating a sharply higher open, with the Dow futures currently up 138 points.
The upward momentum comes as traders shrug off some disappointing employment data, keeping an eye on London for any new news regarding the G20 summit.
The global meeting began Wednesday evening, with President Obama saying that disputes over government spending plans and efforts to overhaul financial regulations will not delay significant action as world leaders address the worst worldwide economic downturn since World War II.
Additionally, world leaders may pledge to regulate major hedge funds and establish a new oversight board to monitor the global financial system, reports said citing a draft of the G-20 communiqué. The leaders would vow to cooperate over economic policies to restore global growth and refrain from competitive devaluation of their currencies.
The French and the Germans are insisting on regulatory changes to the global financial system, hoping to prevent banks playing fast and loose from driving the world into another major crisis. Meanwhile, the U.S. is looking for the European Union nations to boost spending in an effort to stimulate a consumer-led recovery.
In economic news, the Labor Department released its report on initial jobless claims in the week ended March 28th on Thursday, showing an unexpected increase in first time claims for unemployment benefits.
The report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 650,000 from the 652,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Additionally, the number of individuals needing continued unemployment help climbed to another new record of 5.728 million in the week ended March 21 from the previous week's revised reading of 5.567 million.
The Commerce Department is due to release its report on factory goods orders for February at 10 am ET. Orders for manufactured goods are likely to have increased 1.5 percent in the month.
In other news, the House of Representatives voted 247-171 Wednesday to give the Treasury Department the power to restrict bonuses and compensation at companies receiving Federal Reserve bailout money.
The Pay for Performance Act of 2009 would prohibit the companies paying all employees, not just executives, unreasonable or excessive compensation until the bailout money is paid back, a measure that could replace an earlier effort to heavily tax executive bonuses.
The standards also would cover compensation paid to an employee after leaving a firm or before joining it. However, community banks that receive less than $250 million in government funds have been exempted.
After seeing some initial weakness, stocks showed a substantial turnaround over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, ending the day sharply higher. Investors shrugged off some negative news and turned their focus to better-than-expected reports on pending home sales, construction spending, and manufacturing activity.
The major averages all moved notably lower at the open but failed to sustain the downward move and moved back to the upside over the course of the morning. The Dow eventually ended the session up more than 150 points after falling as much as 125 points.
Crude oil futures are trading up $2.71 at $51.10 a barrel after receding $1.27 to $48.39 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, gold futures, which rose $2.70 to $927.70 an ounce in the previous session, are currently falling $10.80 to $916.90 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 99.322 yen compared to 98.5245 yen it fetched at the close of the New York session on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is currently valued at $1.3441.
In overseas trading, stocks markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in strong performances amid some optimism about the outlook for the economy. Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged up more than 1,000 points or 7.4 percent.
The major European markets are also trading higher Thursday, with the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rising 3.4 percent and 4 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is advancing 2.5 percent.
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