US stocks were set for a positive open Thursday morning in New York amid increasing signs of light on the economic horizon.
As of 6:15 am ET, the Dow Futures were up 50 points, the NASDAQ Futures were up 11 points, and the S&P Futures were up 9 points.
Wall Street markets finished Wednesday's session firmly in positive territory, with buying interest bolstered by encouraging durable goods and new home sales data.
The Dow closed up 89.84 points or 1.2 percent at 7,749.81, the Nasdaq closed up 12.43 points or 0.8 percent at 1,528.95 and the S&P 500 closed up 7.63 points or 1 percent at 813.88.
Thursday's focus will shift to Capitol Hill, where Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is expected to push for the establishment of a resolution authority that would give the Treasury sweeping powers to shut down or reorganize failing financial institutions that pose a threat to the country's financial system.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's auto task force reportedly believes that there is viable future for ailing automakers General Motors Corp. (GM) and Chrysler LLC and would rather recommend additional assistance for the auto companies than let them fall into bankruptcy.
Citing comments from the members of the task force, the Wall Street Journal said any attempt at rescuing the companies would require sacrifices from the companies' managements, unions and GM's bondholders.
The Labor Department's report on weekly jobless claims will likely influence trading on Thursday, while investors will also keep an eye on the Commerce Department's final report on fourth quarter GDP.
Additionally, Best Buy (BBY), ConAgra (CAG), and Gamestop (GME) are among the companies due to release their results before the open on Thursday.
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM: News ) plans to cut about 5,000 jobs in the United States, media reports said Wednesday, quoting sources familiar with the matter.
On Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service slashed the debt rating of Bank of America Corp. (BAC: News ) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC), and downgraded the preferred stock rating of both the banks to junk category
The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended higher on Thursday. In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose 156.34 points or 1.8% to 8,636.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 3.57%, or 486.87 points, to 14,109, primarily led by financial stocks.
In European intraday dealing, the FTSE of the UK was down 0.5 percent, the CAC of France was down 0.4 percent, and the DAX of Germany rose 0.2 percent.
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