A flurry of economic reports came in better than expected Thursday morning. The number of people filing for jobless claims fell 30,000 to 339,000 last week, according to the Labor Department.
The U.S. Census Bureau said the trade deficit fell slightly to $44.2 billion from July to August. The Labor Department also reported import prices rose 1.1% in September while export prices rose 0.8%.
Also adding fuel to the morning's positive trading was a report that Japan's Softbank is in talks to acquire telecom operator Sprint Nextel.
Sprint (Fortune 500) shares surged 19% in premarket trading following a Wall Street Journal report, citing a person close to the negotiations, that , SoftBank ( is nearing a deal to buy the third largest U.S. carrier for about $12.8 billion. As of August, SoftBank's mobile arm has more than 30 million subscribers. )
Meanwhile in Europe, credit rating agency S&P downgraded Spain late Wednesday, and warned that the latest plan to recapitalize Spanish banks "still lacks predictability."
Joe Heider, managing principal of Rehmann Financial, said many investors were seeing the downgrade as a positive catalyst that could force Spain to finally seek a bailout.
Meanwhile in Asia, South Korea's central bank lowered interest rates for the second time this year. Markets ended the day mixed. The Shanghai Composite slid 0.8% and Japan's Nikkei shed 0.6%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ticked up 0.4%.
It will be a relatively quiet day for earnings in the corporate world, with companies including grocery chain Safeway (Fortune 500) scheduled to report. Results are due Friday morning from megabanks , JPMorgan (Fortune 500) and , Wells Fargo (Fortune 500). ,
U.S. stocks fell Wednesday.
Companies Shares of Ruby Tuesday ( fell nearly 5% after the casual restaurant chain reported quarterly earnings that missed expectations. )
Realogy, the parent of Century 21, ERA, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby's International, will start trading on the NYSE under the ticker RLGY after the company priced its IPO at the top end of its estimated range. The IPO is the third largest this year.
Oil for November delivery added 87 cents to $92.12 a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery rose $5.90 to $1,771.00 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged lower, pushing the yield up to 1.70% from 1.69% late Wednesday.
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|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.37%||4.31%|
|15 yr fixed||3.40%||3.32%|
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|15 yr refi||3.39%||3.32%|
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