US stocks were looking to snap out of this week's funk Thursday morning in New York, and early signals were positive after Apple (AAPL) reported a 15% rise in profit after yesterday's closing bell.

As of 6:20 am ET, the S&P Futures were up 9 points, the NASDAQ Futures were up 19 points, and the Dow Futures were up 78 points.

Stocks experienced considerable volatility over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages unable to sustain any significant moves.

While the Nasdaq managed to hold onto a modest gain, closing up 2.27 points or 0.1 percent at 1,646.12, the Dow closed down 82.99 points or 1.0 percent at 7,886.57 and the S&P 500 closed down 6.53 points or 0.8 percent at 843.55.

Apple should help to lead a rally for tech stocks Thursday morning after smashing earnings expectations for the second quarter, driven by very strong sales of the iPhone.

Meanwhile, eBay (EBAY) turned in lower quarterly sales and earnings, but beat analyst expectations.

Earnings are likely to remain in focus on Thursday, with Marriott International (MAR), Hershey (HSY) and UPS (UPS) among the companies due to release their results before the start of trading.

However, the news flow may be dominated by a report in the Wall Street Journal indicating that Bank of America (BAC)CEO Lewis has testified that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Paulson pressured the bank not to discuss its troubled plan to buy Merrill Lynch late last year.

Thursday is also a big day on the economic front, with weekly jobless claims data due out at 8:30 a.m. ET and existing home sales scheduled to be released at 10 a.m. ET.

President Obama is scheduled to meet with the leaders of leading credit card companies in Washington DC Thursday. Obama is expected to press for consumer protections. Yesterday, a measure to put new restrictions on card companies passed a U.S. House panel 48-19.

Swiss healthcare company Novartis AG (NVS) on Thursday reported a 15% decline in first-quarter net profit, as net sales dropped 2% mainly on negative currency impact. Nonetheless, strong contributions from recently launched products and double-digit growth in all regions helped Novartis achieve 3% growth in Pharmaceuticals sales. Looking forward, Novartis confirmed its fiscal 2009 sales growth outlook.

Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse Group (CS) reported a profit in its first quarter, compared to last year's loss, boosted by Investment Banking performance, which returned to significant profitability. Further, Credit Suisse named Tobias Guldimann, currently Chief Risk Officer, to assume sole responsibility for risk management on the Executive Board.

Stocks in Asia advanced, with Japan's Nikkei gaining about 1.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rising 2.3 percent. European markets were flat in morning trading.

For comments and feedback: contact