U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open Thursday as second quarter corporate earnings exceeded expectations, indicating that business conditions are improving.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.36 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were up 0.26 percent and futures on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.52 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on the Dept. of Labor's weekly U.S. jobless claims data report. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to rise to 365,000 for the week ending July 14, after dropping to 350,000 the previous week.
The National Association of Realtors' home sales report, which measures the change in the annualized number of existing residential buildings that were sold during the previous month, will also be made public Thursday. It is expected to rise to 4.63 million units in June, up from 4.55 million units in May.
On Wednesday, U.S. markets rose as investor sentiment turned positive with better-than-expected earnings from companies allaying concerns about faltering global economic conditions. Honeywell International Inc. reported that its second quarter earnings rose to $1.14 per share from $1.02 per share a year ago.
Meanwhile, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, continuing with his semi-annual report delivery to the Congress, repeated Wednesday that the Fed was prepared to take further action as needed.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.90 percent, the S&P 500 Index advanced 0.70 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.10 percent.
Major European indices rose as investor confidence was upbeat, with U.S. companies positing quarterly results that beat forecasts. London's FTSE 100 was up 8.28 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index rose 21.91 points and France's CAC 40 advanced 13.22 points.
Asian stocks also made gains. Market participants were encouraged by healthy earnings reports from U.S. companies.
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