Optimism on Greece

@CNNMoneyInvest March 8, 2012: 8:45 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks pointed toward a higher open Thursday, as investors await further developments in Greece ahead of a crucial debt swap and mixed data on the job market.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were up about 0.8%. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Data on initial jobless claims and planned job cuts came out Thursday, one day before the government's closely watched monthly jobs data is released on Friday.

Meanwhile, Greece is moving closer to finalizing an agreement with its private-sector bondholders. The creditors must agree to a restructuring of Greece's debt Thursday in order to prevent the country from defaulting.

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U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, a day after the biggest one-day sell-off so far this year, as investors were heartened by a handful of economic reports.

World markets: The European Central Bank announced Thursday that it will keep interest rates unchanged.

European stocks rose in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) increased 1.3%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany jumped 2.0% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 2.0%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 1.1%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 1.3% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) ended up 2.0%.

Economy: Initial jobless claims for the week ended March 3 total 362,000, an increase of 8,000 from the prior week, according to the U.S. government. That was higher than expectations of 355,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.

Planned job cuts for the month of February totaled 51,728, according to a report from outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas released before the opening bell. That's down from the 53,486 cuts recorded in January.

On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said the private sector added 216,000 jobs in February -- an improvement from the month prior and roughly in line with expectations.

Companies: Shares for McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) fell 3.5% in premarket trading after the fast food franchise said that same-store sales rose 7.5% in February but listed off the factors that could impact its first quarter operating income growth.

"The current operating environment includes persistent economic uncertainty, austerity measures in Europe and commodity and labor cost pressures, particularly in the U.S.," said McDonald's, in a press release.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) reported quarterly earnings and sales that topped forecasts, and issued an upbeat outlook. The brewer's stock rose 3% in premarket trading.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) unveiled the third version of its wildly popular iPad at a presentation in San Francisco on Wednesday. Apple shares closed flat for the day.

Shares of AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) fell 2% in premarket trading, a day after the Treasury Department said it was selling $6 billion worth of its AIG stock at a profit. But AIG still owes some $42 billion and it's unclear when that will be repaid.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the euro and the British pound, but strengthened versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery rose 58 cents to $106.74 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $18.50 to $1,702.30 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.0% from 1.97% late Wednesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,786.45 -256.45 -1.50%
Nasdaq 4,419.19 -74.20 -1.65%
S&P 500 1,946.32 -25.97 -1.32%
Treasuries 2.41 -0.10 -3.83%
Data as of 1:43pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.96 -0.09 -0.53%
Ford Motor Co 14.60 -0.18 -1.25%
Facebook Inc 77.11 -1.93 -2.45%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.02 -0.16 -0.62%
Apple Inc 99.62 -1.13 -1.12%
Data as of 1:28pm ET
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