After showing a strong upward move in the previous session, stocks are likely to see some further upside in early trading on Thursday. The futures are currently indicating a notably higher open, with the Dow futures currently up 102 points.
The futures have held onto their earlier gains following the release of some key economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing a notable decrease in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 25th.
The Labor Department said that initial jobless claims fell to 631,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 645,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 640,000 originally reported for the previous week.
At the same time, the report showed a continued increase in continuing claims, which rose to another new record high. Continuing claims in the week ended April 18th rose to 6.271 million from the preceding week's revised level of 6.138 million.
In other economic news, the Commerce Department released its report on personal income and spending in the month of March, showing that income and spending both fell by a little more than economists had been expecting.
The report showed that personal income fell 0.3 percent in March following a 0.2 percent decrease in February. Economists had been expecting a slightly more modest decrease in income of about 0.2 percent.
The Commerce Department added that personal spending fell 0.2 percent in March following an upwardly revised 0.4 percent increase in the previous month. Spending had been expected to edge down 0.1 percent compared to the 0.2 percent increase originally reported for February.
On the corporate front, another slew of companies have recently reported their quarterly results, with Comcast (CMCSA) showing a notable upward move in pre-market trading after the cable company reported better than expected first quarter results.
Citing an increase in new customers, Comcast reported first quarter earnings of $0.27 per share, up from $0.24 per share in the year-ago quarter and above analyst estimates of $0.23 per share. The company also reported better than expected revenue growth.
On the other hand, oil giant Exxon Mobil (XOM) reported first quarter earnings that fell to $0.92 per share from $2.02 per share in the year-ago quarter and came in below analyst estimates of $0.95 per share. However, revenue fell less than analysts had expected.
Not long after the open, trading could be impacted by the release of the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago's regional report on manufacturing activity. The index of activity in the sector is expected to rise to 35.0 in April from 31.4 in March.
Stocks turned in a strong performance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, benefiting from a positive reaction to the first quarter GDP data as well as the Federal Reserve's announcement of the outcome of its latest policy meeting.
With the upward moves, the Nasdaq ended the session at its best closing level in nearly six months, while the Dow set a more than two-month closing high and the S&P 500 set a three-month closing high.
Crude oil futures are rising $0.68 to $51.65 a barrel after advancing $1.05 to $50.97 a barrel in Wednesday's session. Meanwhile, gold futures, which rose $6.90 to $900.50 an ounce in the previous session, are currently down $10.10 at $890.40 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is currently trading at 98.262 yen after strengthening to 97.655 in Wednesday's New York session. The dollar is currently valued at $1.3233 versus the euro.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved sharply higher on Thursday, benefiting from the strength seen on Wall Street overnight. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index showed a notable upward move, rising 3.9 percent.
The major European markets are also showing strong upward moves, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advancing 2.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are rising 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
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