Big day for earnings; $29 billion deal; Dow above 20k

premarket stocks trading futures
Click chart for in-depth premarket data.

1. Big day for earnings: A lot of blue-chip companies and tech giants are reporting quarterly results Thursday.

Comcast (CMCSA), Caterpillar (CAT), Ford (F), Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), Sherwin-Williams (SHW) and Southwest Air (LUV) are releasing earnings before the open.

Microsoft (MSFT), Starbucks (SBUX) and Google's parent company Alphabet (GOOGL) are set to release earnings after the close.

Meanwhile, United Rentals (URI) and eBay (EBAY) shares could surge after the companies reported better-than-expected results on Wednesday. On the flip side, Mattel (MAT) is set to tank after releasing earnings that came in below expectations.

In Europe, shares in Unilever (UL) are dropping by about 4% and Diageo (DEO) stock is up about 5% as investors react to their earnings.

Before the Bell newsletter: Key market news. In your inbox. Subscribe now!

2. J&J buying Actelion: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced it's paying $29.3 billion to buy the Swiss biopharmaceutical firm Actelion (ALIOY).

Shares in Actelion surged 20% after the announcement.

The companies have had an on-off relationship. They had been talking about a deal, broke things off in December, only to return a few days later to exclusive talks about a deal.

3. Getting high: U.S. stock markets hit all-time highs yesterday and it looks like they'll reach new records today.

The Dow Jones industrial average surpassed the 20,000 point level on Wednesday for the first time ever. The Nasdaq rose by 1% and the S&P 500 added 0.8%

U.S. stock futures are pushing up again. European markets are mostly rising in early trading, and Asian markets ended the day with gains.

4. Brexit watch: New data shows U.K. fourth quarter GDP grew by 0.6% over the third quarter, matching the rate of growth recorded in the previous two quarters.

The data shows U.K. GDP grew by 2% for the year as a whole, down from 2.2% in 2015 and 3.1% in 2014.

"Clearly, life goes on, despite the Brexit vote," said Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank.

Download CNN MoneyStream for up-to-the-minute market data and news

5. Coming this week:

Thursday - Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Ford (F), and Starbucks (SBUX) earnings
Friday - First reading of fourth-quarter U.S. GDP