Stocks: Buoyed by Apple, Facebook

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Tech investors rejoice!

Both Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) reported strong quarterly earnings late Wednesday, boosting market sentiment and pushing U.S. stock futures higher Thursday.

Apple shares rallied after the company said it was expanding its stock buyback program and increasing its dividend, while reporting quarterly results that beat expectations.

Apple also revealed a seven-to-one stock split, which will make it easier for individual investors to buy a slice of the tech giant. A single share in Apple currently costs over $500.

Facebook also beat expectations, helped by strong mobile advertising numbers.

Related: Apple shares soar on increased buyback

Thursday is a busy day for earnings reports as well. General Motors (GM) reported a $1.3 billion charge relating to a massive recall involving faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. But excluding that charge and other one-time items, GM's earnings easily topped forecasts. Shares rose 2% in premarket trading.

UPS (UPS) blamed the snowy weather for weak first quarter results while Caterpillar (CAT) shares surged nearly 4% in premarket action after reporting earnings that topped forecasts.

Microsoft (MSFT), Starbucks (SBUX), Amazon (AMZN) and Baidu (BIDU) are slated to report after the market closes.

Related: Fear & Greed Index still shows fear

Shares of AstraZenec (AZN)gained after the firm reported better-than-expected earnings. AstraZeneca was in the spotlight earlier this week after it was reported that Pfize h (PFE)ad considered buying the company for £60 billion ($100 billion). Some think an offer may yet come.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Alstom (ALSMY) shares surged by roughly 12% Thursday following a Bloomberg report that General Electric (GE) may make a multi-billion dollar bid for the company. The French maker of turbines and trains said it was "not informed" of a takeover offer.

On the economic front, investors are expecting the latest set of initial jobless claims from the U.S. Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Census Bureau will release durable goods orders at the same time.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech 30

European markets were all pushing higher in morning trading, while Asian markets ended with mixed results.

On Wednesday, Wall Street broke its six-day winning streak. All three U.S. indexes ended in the red.

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