Investors are likely to take their cue from developments in Washington during the trading day. Lawmakers and the White House have been in talks to avoid the slew of year end tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff.
Meanwhile, the government said U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 2.7% annual rate in the third quarter. Separately, weekly claims for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to 393,000.
In corporate news, quarterly results are due before the open from companies including troubled bookseller Barnes & Noble (Fortune 500) and grocery chain , Kroger (Fortune 500). Many major retailers will also report same-store sales for November, including the start of the holiday shopping season over the , Black Friday weekend.
Shares of Tiffany ( tumbled early Thursday, after the luxury retailer reported third-quarter earnings and sales that missed estimates. The company cut its forecast for the full-year. )
Shares of Target (Fortune 500) were under pressure as well, after the retailer reported a 0.1% decline in sales for the first four weeks of November. ,
Research in Motion ( was also getting a big boost from a )Goldman Sachs (Fortune 500) upgrade. The BlackBerry maker also announced updates to its so-called developer ecosystem as the company works to drum up enthusiasm for the BlackBerry 10. ,
Meanwhile, world markets took their cues from the U.S.
China's marquee index, the Shanghai Composite, lagged its rivals and posted a fresh multi-year low. The index lost 0.5%, and remains well below the psychologically important 2,000 point mark.
Markets in Europe also capitalized on the fiscal talks momentum, gaining around 0.8% in early trade.
Two reports European sentiment reports injected life into the ailing eurozone economy. The European Commission's reading on economic sentiment pushed higher in November, after two months of deceleration. And the EC's business climate indicator also edged higher.
The dollar lost ground against the euro and the British pound, but strengthened against the Japanese yen.
|5 people you might not tip (but should)|
|Oklahoma bans local minimum wage increases|
|GM reveals most powerful drop-top Corvette|
|Fears grow over China property flameout|
|Stocks: Upbeat as Yellen speaks in New York|
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.26%||4.48%|
|15 yr fixed||3.30%||3.31%|
|30 yr refi||4.25%||4.45%|
|15 yr refi||3.29%||3.34%|
Today's featured rates: