Stocks: Riding the highs

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Will the Dow and S&P 500 continue their record run Thursday?

U.S. stock futures were in a holding pattern amid a fresh batch of economic data and more quarterly results.

The government released its weekly report on initial jobless claims before the open, showing that claims totaled 346,000 in the week ending April 6, a drop of 42,000 from the week before.

Retailers were also reporting February same-store sales -- a key metric used to gauge consumer spending.

Sales at Costco (COST) rose 4%, missing forecasts, while Gap (GPS) reported same-store sales that rose a better-than-expected 3% in the latest month. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) shares rose 2% after reporting a sales increase.

Shares of Yum Brands (YUM) fell about 2% in premarket trading after the restaurant operator revealed that its same-store sales in China dropped in March amid an ongoing food safety scandal.

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On the earnings front, drugstore chain Rite Aid (RAD) swung to a profit in the latest quarter, trouncing forecasts and sending shares up 11% in premarket trading.

Pier 1 Imports Inc (PIR) reported earnings in line with forecasts but issued lower guidance. The stock was down more than 3% in premarket trading.

The first of the big banks, JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC), will report their results ahead of the opening bell Friday.

Dollar store customers still cautious
Dollar store customers still cautious

Shares of PC companies continued to sell off following news that PC sales fell 14% worldwide last quarter. Shares of Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) were all lower.

U.S. stocks booked strong gains Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 closing at new record highs.

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European markets were higher in morning trading, supported by Wall Street's record-breaking run.

Asian markets also ended higher. The Shanghai Composite added 0.1%, the Hang Seng increased 0.3% and the Nikkei jumped 2%.

Toyota (TM) shares were higher in premarket trading, despite the company's recall of 1.7 million vehicles because of airbag defects. Honda (HMC) shares also rose, after the company said it was recalling 1.1 million vehicles with airbag problems. Airbag supplier Takata Corp closed down 9% in Tokyo.

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