US stocks were looking to extend their gains from the previous session Thursday morning in New York as Wall Street continued to see glimmers of hope that the tattered economy may be on the mend.
As of 6:15 am ET, the S&P Futures were up 15 points, the NASDAQ Futures were up 23 points, and the Dow Futures were up 128 points.
Asian stocks surged overnight, while the major European averages were firmly positive in early dealing. Over the past 24 hours, investors worldwide have cheered a number of better-than-expected corporate earnings reports and found encouraging elements in US GDP data.
Stocks turned in a strong performance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages more than offsetting the losses posted in the two previous sessions. After holding steady on interest rates, the Federal Reserve issued a somewhat more upbeat economic outlook, helping to fuel gains.
GDP decreased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter, better than the 6.3 percent drop in the previous quarter, but considerably worse than the 4.7 percent decline economists had anticipated.
A steep drop in private inventories played a big part in the sharper than expected contraction in GDP, however, with the drop in inventories subtracting 2.8 percentage points from first quarter GDP.
Economic data is likely to attract some attention on Thursday, with reports on weekly jobless claims, personal income and spending, and Chicago-area manufacturing activity among those scheduled to be released.
Additionally, Exxon Mobil (XOM) headlines a large group of companies reporting before the opening bell. Expedia (EXPE), Domino's (DPZ), Kellogg (K), Motorola (MOT), Office Max (OMX) and Viacom (VIA) are also on the schedule.
Swedish telecommunications equipment maker LM Ericsson Telephone Co. (ERIC), Thursday, reported a 30% decline in first-quarter profit, hurt mainly by a loss in Sony Ericsson, the company's joint venture with Sony Corp. (SNE).
Credit card transaction processing major Visa Inc. (V) said Wednesday that second quarter profit increased from last year, helped by lower expenses, and higher revenues, partially offset by lower payment volume. The company also reaffirmed its outlook for fiscal 2009, and 2010.
Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) said Wednesday after the markets closed that its second quarter profit dropped 77% from last year, hurt by declining U.S. same-store sales and charges related to closure of underperforming company-operated U.S. stores. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, came in above analysts' expectations.
Ken Lewis was stripped of his title as chairman of Bank of America Corp. on Wednesday, but shareholders allowed him to retain the title of Chief Executive Officer.
In a close vote, shareholders moved to split the two leadership positions, approving board member Walter E. Massey as new BofA Chairman. Massey is president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Thursday, the Bank of Japan retained its key interest rate as expected and downgraded its economic outlook.
The Policy Board of the central bank unanimously voted to hold the uncollateralized overnight call rate at 0.1%. The previous change in interest rates was a 20 basis point cut implemented in December 2008.
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