RTTNews - After ending the previous session mixed, stocks are poised to open Thursday's session modestly higher as traders digest some encouraging data on the state of the labor market. The major averages are currently all in positive territory, with Dow futures up by 31 points.
Initial jobless claims figures released by the Labor Department showed first time claims for the week ended June 13th came in at 608,000 compared to last week's revised figure of 605,000.
Some of the optimism came from continuing claims, which dropped by 148,000 in the week ended June 6th, brining the total number of people continuing to file for unemployment benefits to 6.687 million, compared to 6.835 million in the previous report.
Traders are also likely to keep an on the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing survey for June, which is expected to show a reading of current activity of -17.0 compared to -22.6 in May.
Other data on tap includes the Conference Board's leading indicators index for May, which is estimated to move up by 1.0 percent increase following a comparable increase in the previous month. Both of the reports are scheduled to be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
In addition, comments from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will be in focus as he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on the details of the Obama administration's proposed regulatory reforms for the financial system. The remarks are set to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.
On the corporate front, J. M. Smucker (SJM) reported fourth-quarter net income of $94.27 million or $0.80 per share, compared to $37.05 million or $0.67 per share in the same quarter of last year. Wall Street analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.63 per share.
Additionally, HLTH Corp. (HLTH) and its publicly traded subsidiary, WebMD Health Corp. (WBMD), announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which HLTH will merge into WebMD in a tax-free, all-stock transaction. WebMD will be the surviving company in the merger.
Following two days of steep losses, stocks saw a lackluster outing on Wednesday, with the major averages finishing on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq finished higher by 12 points at 1,808, the Dow slid 7 points to 8,497 and the S&P 500 dropped by 1 point to 911.
Meanwhile, crude oil futures are moving lower in early commodities trading, falling by $0.23 to $70.80 a barrel after ending the previous session up $0.56 at $71.03 a barrel. Meanwhile, the price of gold is on the rise, climbing by $2.30 to $938.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is mixed against the major European currencies, moving down to $1.3955 against the euro but rising to $1.6260 against the pound. Meanwhile, the dollar is up against the yen, moving to a level of 96.13 yen after setting a fresh two-week low against the Japanese currency on Wednesday.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia Pacific region ended Thursday's trading notably lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down 1.7 percent.
The major European markets are mixed, with the French CAC 40 Index up by 0.1 percent while the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are down by 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
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