NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks were set for a higher open, as investors reacted to a lower-than-expected weekly report on jobless claims.
Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures jumped after the release of the jobless claims report, an hour ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.
Stocks ended higher Wednesday after spending most of the day lower, following another round of dismal housing news.
A worse-than-expected plunge in new home sales sent indexes lower, but they recouped losses as homebuilding and housing material stocks crept higher. The Dow ended the day 20 points higher.
"There's more potential to claw back from recent losses, but the market is still very much under pressure," said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets in London, noting the pre-market's cautious tone prior to the release of the jobless claims report.
Jones said investors may remain cautious ahead of the latest reading on second-quarter GDP due Friday. It's expected to show the economy grew much less than previously estimated, which could unnerve investors. Also, investors will be keen to hear Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments at the central bank's symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Economy: Before the bell, the government released its weekly numbers on first-time unemployment filers. The Labor Department announced that jobless claims fell to 473,000 last week, which was lower than expected. Analysts polled by Briefing.com had expected Thursday's report to show new claims fell to 485,000 last week.
Last week, stocks took a hit when the figure increased dramatically to 500,000 initial claims. On Thursday, that figure was upwardly revised to 504,000.
World markets: European shares were higher in early trading. The CAC 40 in France rose 0.4%, Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.5% and the DAX in Germany added 0.2%.
Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index increased 0.7%, and the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.3%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.1%.
Oil futures for October delivery rose 90 cents to $73.42 a barrel. Gold for December delivery climbed $1.80 to $1,243.10 an ounce.
Bonds: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.54%.
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