Stocks show signs of life, despite new European worries

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Stocks were poised for a positive open Wednesday after the U.S. government released a strong report on jobless claims and European finance ministers concluded a meeting without finalizing the details of a debt-reduction package for Greece.

U.S. stock futures were slightly higher across the board and stocks were higher across Europe, recovering from the failure to reach a deal which had stirred new worries about European sovereign debt. The officials had been expected to agree to release the funds, with payment likely in December.

Britain's FTSE 100 was flat, while the DAX in Germany edged up 0.2% and France's CAC 40 rose 0.3%.

In the U.S., new jobless claims totaled 410,000 last week, impacted by storm conditions in the Northeast. Investors will be focused on a consumer sentiment report out later this morning.

In corporate news, stock futures for Deere (DE) dipped 3% after the equipment maker released quarterly results.

But going forward, trading volume is likely to be light ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, despite market anxiety over Europe.

"Turning to the day ahead, the focus will probably be on further comments from European leaders following the marathon Eurogroup meeting overnight," wrote Deutsche Bank economist Jim Reid in a note to investors.

U.S. stocks ended flat Tuesday, amid a sharp sell-off in Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) shares after the company reported a massive loss.

Fear & Greed Index

World markets: Asian markets closed higher. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.1%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1.4%, and Japan's Nikkei posted a 0.9% gain.

Economy: The Labor Department's data on initial jobless claims for the week ended November 17 exceeded expectations of 423,000, based on a survey of analysts by At 10:00, the University of Michigan will release the final version of its consumer sentiment index for November.

HP may have to split up
HP may have to split up

Currencies and commodities: The dollar was higher against the euro and the Japanese yen, but slipped versus the British pound.

Oil for January delivery rose 80 cents to $87.55 a barrel. Turmoil in the Middle East has contributed to oil price volatility in recent days, with ongoing violence between the Israeli military and the Hamas leadership of Gaza.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $2 to $1,725.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged higher, pushing the yield down to 1.57% from 1.59% late Tuesday.

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