RTTNews - Following a moderate pullback in the previous session, stocks are poised to open higher on Thursday after better-than-expected data on the condition of the labor market relieved traders. The major index futures are all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 55 points.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits showed a much bigger than expected decrease in the week ended August 1st, according to a report released by the Labor Department, with the data offsetting some of the recent concerns about the outlook for the labor market.

The report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 550,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 588,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge down to 580,000 from the 584,000 originally reported for the previous week.

On the earnings front, Cisco Systems (CSCO) reported adjusted fourth quarter net income of $0.31 per share, compared to $0.40 per share in the same quarter of last year. Wall Street analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.29 per share.

Cisco CEO John Chambers also said the company saw a number of positive signs for the economy during the quarter.

Sunoco (SUN) reported an adjusted second quarter net loss of $0.27 per share, compared to income of $0.52 per share in the year ago quarter. Analysts forecast a loss of $0.12 per share. Revenue for the second quarter fell 51 percent to $7.51 billion from $15.18 billion in the same quarter last year.

Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK) said its second quarter net income was $0.33 per share, compared to $0.21 per share in the prior year quarter. The firm surpassed the expectations of analysts, who forecast earnings of $0.26 per share.

Additionally, Comcast said its revenues for the quarter totaled $8.94 billion, compared to $8.55 billion in the prior year quarter. Twenty analysts had consensus revenue estimate of $8.86 billion for the quarter.

Meanwhile, News Corp. (NWS) and DirecTV Group (DTV) disappointed, reporting results that fell short of expectations.

Overall, most corporate results have beat estimates on the bottom line but have consistently fallen short of revenue forecasts due to the economic climate.

Traders are also looking to mixed results on monthly retail sales, with Target (TGT), Big Lots (BIG), BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ), and JC Penney (JCP) reporting, among others.

Stocks finished Wednesday's session moderately lower after disappointing data on the health of the service sector and the labor market generated some selling pressure. The Dow closed down by 39 points at 9,281, the Nasdaq slipped by 18 points to 1,993 and the S&P 500 fell by 3 points to 1,003.

Crude oil futures are drifting lower in early commodities trading, sliding by $0.05 to $71.92 a barrel after climbing by a modest margin in the previous session. The price of gold is on the rise, gaining by $5.80 to $970.80 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is advancing against the major European currencies, rising to $1.4393 against the euro, while moving up to $1.6883 versus the pound. Meanwhile, the buck is also on the rise against the yen and is now valued at 95.77 yen.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, although the major markets in Japan and Hong Kong closed notably higher. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are all moving notably higher, with the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index up by 1.2 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 1.7 percent.

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