RTTNews - After turning in a lackluster performance in the previous session, stocks are pointing to a higher open on Thursday amid reaction to largely in-line employment data and the latest batch of earnings. The major index futures are currently all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 27 points.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits showed a moderate increase in the week ended July 18th, according to a report released by the Labor Department, with the increase coming roughly in line with economist estimates.

The report showed that jobless claims rose to 554,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to increase to 557,000 from the 522,000 originally reported for the previous week.

In earnings news, 3M (MMM) reported adjusted second-quarter net income of $1.20 per share, compared to $1.39 per share in the year ago quarter. Wall Street expected the firm to earn $0.94 per share for the quarter. Net sales also declined compared to the same period last year but also beat estimates.

Ford Motors (F) revealed second-quarter net income of $0.69 per share, although its adjusted results showed a loss of $0.21 per share. The loss was narrower than the loss of $0.63 per share in the year-ago quarter while also beating Wall Street expectations of a loss of $0.48 per share. Sales slipped but were also able to beat forecasts.

Wyeth (WYE) reported adjusted second-quarter net income of $0.98 per share, compared to $0.91 per share in the year ago quarter. The results surpassed forecasts of $0.85 per share for the quarter.

McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T), Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) also bested estimates, although by more modest margins, while results United Parcel Service (UPS) came in-line with expectations. After the closing bell today, traders will look to results from American Express (AXP), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN), which are some of the big-name companies slated to report.

Stocks finished on a mixed note after seeing choppy trading throughout Wednesday's trading session, with reaction to the latest earnings results limited by low volume. While the Nasdaq eked out a gain of 10 points, finishing at 1,926, the Dow fell by 35 points to 8,881. Further, the S&P 500 slipped by half a point to close at 954.

Crude oil futures are sliding in early commodities trading, falling by $0.30 to $65.10 a barrel after pulling back by a modest margin in the previous session. The price of gold is inching higher, edging up by $0.80 to $954.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is falling against the major European currencies, trading at $1.4233 against the euro and $1.6504 versus the pound. Against the yen, the buck is rising and is now valued at 94.42 yen.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished on the upside on Thursday. While Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index posted a 0.7 percent gain, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are mixed, with the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index posting gains of 0.2 and 0.1 percent, respectively, while the French CAC 40 Index is showing a 0.2 percent loss.

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