Stocks set to rise at the open

By CNNMoney.com staff


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised for gains Thursday after better-than-expected government reports on the economy and jobs front.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures all were slightly higher ahead of the opening bell. Before the reports on GDP and weekly jobless claims were released, futures were all pointing to a lower open. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

U.S. stocks finished with modest losses Wednesday, as uneasiness about the global economy continued to hang over the market and a light economic calendar gave investors little reason to jump in.

Economy: The Labor Department reported that jobless claims totaled 453,000 in the week ended Sept. 25, which was slightly better than expected.

A consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a total of 457,000 claims.

Also, the Commerce Department released its third estimate for second-quarter gross domestic product, raising it slightly to a gain of 1.7% from the previously reported 1.6%.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the report to show no further changes after the government's last revision.

Investors are also mulling over AIG's plan to repay taxpayers and Congressional bill to impose tariffs on China because of its currency controls.

Companies: AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) took a major step toward paying back its government bailout Thursday, after announcing an agreement to pay down its debt to U.S. taxpayers. Part of this includes the insurer's plan to sell its Japan-based units for $4.8 billion.

World markets: European stocks fell in midday trading, after Ireland's central bank unveiled a bank bailout set to reach about $46 billion. Ireland's budget deficit is on track to hit 10 times the European Union guidelines for eurozone members, the central bank said.

France's CAC 40 fell 1%, Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% and Germany's DAX fell 0.3%.

Asian markets shares ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei fell 2% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite rose 1.7%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against a broad range of currencies, including the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.

On Wednesday, Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to impose tariffs on China for undervaluing its currency, the yuan, in order to keep export prices cheap.

Gold futures for December delivery edged $3.20 higher to $1,313.50 an ounce, after hitting another intra-day trading record of $1,316.20 an ounce, earlier in the session.

Crude oil futures for November delivery rose 78 cents to $78.78 a barrel.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year bond rose, pushing down the yield to 2.49%. To top of page

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