RTTNews - Following another lackluster performance in the previous session, stocks are poised to open considerably higher on Thursday. The upward momentum comes in reaction to largely encouraging news on the earnings front as well as the latest employment figures. The major index futures are all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 84 points.
While the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing that first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 25th came in above the average analyst estimate, there were some concerns that jobless claims could have come in substantially higher.
The report showed that jobless claims rose to 584,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 559,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 575,000 from the 554,000 originally reported for the previous week.
After the markets closed Wednesday, credit card giant Visa Inc. (V) said its third quarter profit soared compared to last year, helped by lower expenses and a one-time gain from the sale of its stake in VisaNet do Brasil.
Visa's quarterly adjusted earnings came in above analysts' expectations, along with quarterly revenues. The company also reaffirmed its long-term guidance for 2010.
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil (XOM) revealed adjusted second quarter earnings of $0.84 per share compared to $2.27 per share in the same quarter a year ago. The results came in well below analyst estimates of $1.01 per share. Quarterly revenues plummeted to $74.5 billion compared to $138 billion in the year-ago quarter but exceeded expectations of $71.3 billion.
Insurance stalwart Travelers (TRV) reported second quarter net income of $1.27 per share, compared to $1.54 per share in the year ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $6.16 billion, down from $6.3 billion in the year ago quarter. Wall Street analysts expected the company to report earnings of $1.28 per share on revenues of $6.17 billion for the quarter. Although the firm raised its full year guidance, its still fell well short of estimates.
Traders also looked to earnings results from Cigna (CI), Tyco (TYC), Kellogg (K) and Master Card (MA), which all surpassed Wall Street expectations on the bottom line, while revenues largely missed the mark.
Following an early move to the downside, stocks bounced around in negative territory throughout Wednesday's session in reaction to the day's slew of earnings and economic reports. The Dow fell by 26 points to 9,071, the Nasdaq slipped by 8 points to 1,968 and the S&P 500 declined by 4 points to 975.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, advancing by $0.83 to $64.18 a barrel after declining by a notable margin in the previous session. The price of gold is also gaining, climbing by $4.80 to $932.0 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is mixed against the major European currencies, sitting little changed at $1.4060 against the euro while sliding to $1.6487 versus the pound. Against the yen, the buck is soaring and is now valued at 95.59 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished largely on the upside on Thursday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index both rose by 0.5 percent.
The major European markets are all also moving higher, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index up by 1.4 and 1.3 percent, respectively, while the German DAX Index is up by a more modest margin of 0.7 percent.
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