Stocks poised for higher open

By staff

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. stocks were headed for a positive start Thursday, pulling out of their pre-market slump, on a stronger-than-expected jobless claims report.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) was flat, while S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq futures were higher ahead of the opening bell.

Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

Stocks surged Wednesday as a stronger euro boosted commodity shares and investors viewed regional bank State Street's decision to raise its earnings forecast as a positive sign for the financial sector.

Despite the one-day rebound, markets have been pressured lately as worries about the economy persist and investors remain wary ahead of earnings season.

"There just hasn't been any long-term conviction or even medium-term conviction, so markets are probably going to stay choppy," said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets.

"We keep getting mixed messages, so there's nothing I can see, even on the distant horizon, that's really going to pop us out of this mode until we see a real trend in positive data," he added.

Economy: The Department of Labor released its weekly jobless claims report before the market open, showing that initial claims totaled 454,000 in the week ended July 3.

This was a decline of 21,000 claims from the prior week. It was also lower than the forecast from economists surveyed by, who expected that claims would total 460,000.

The nation's chain stores reported June sales for stores open a year or more, also known as same-store sales.

The government's report on May consumer credit is due in the afternoon. Credit is expected to have fallen by $3 billion after rising by $1 billion in April.

World markets: European shares rose in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 both jumped more than 1%, while Germany's DAX edged up 0.5% in the early going.

Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei rose 2.8% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.3%.

Dollar and commodities: The dollar was down against the euro but up versus the British pound and the Japanese yen.

U.S. light crude oil for August delivery rose 90 cents to $74.97 a barrel.

COMEX gold's August contract dropped $1.10 to $1,197.50 per ounce.

Bonds: Treasury prices rose, and the yield on the 10-year note held at 3.01%. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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