After ending the previous session mixed, stocks are likely to show a strong move to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a sharply higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 144 points.
The strong upward momentum for the markets is partly due to a positive reaction to comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who promised to do what is need to support to beleaguered eurozone.
"Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro," Draghi said at an investment conference in London. "And believe me, it will be enough."
Positive sentiment has also been generated by some relatively upbeat economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing a sharp drop in initial jobless claims.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 353,000 in the week ended July 21st from the previous week's revised figure of 388,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 380,000 from the 386,000 originally reported for the previous week.
A separate report from the Commerce Department showed a much bigger than expected increase in durable goods orders in the month of June, although the increase was largely due to a jump in orders in the volatile transportation sector.
The report showed that durable goods orders increased by 1.6 percent in June, matching an upwardly revised increase in the previous month. Durable goods orders had been expected to rise by 0.6 percent.
However, excluding an 8.0 percent jump in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders actually fell by 1.1 percent in June compared to a 0.8 percent increase in May.
Traders are also digesting the latest batch of earnings news, with oil giant Exxon Mobil (XOM: Quote) reporting strong second quarter profit growth due in large part to one-time gains.
Sprint Nextel (S: Quote), 3M (MMM: Quote), Dow Chemical (DOW: Quote), and Hershey (HSY: Quote) are among the other well-known companies that have released their quarterly results.
With reaction to earnings news pushing the markets in opposite directions, stocks turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday after moving mostly lower over the course of the three previous sessions.
The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the Dow climbing 58.73 points or 0.5 percent to 12,676.05, while the Nasdaq fell 8.75 points or 0.3 percent to 2,854.24. The S&P 500 closed nearly flat, edging down 0.42 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,337.89.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have shown strong moves to the upside on the day. The French CAC 40 Index has surged up by 2.9 percent, while the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are jumping 1.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $1.07 to $90.04 a barrel after advancing $0.47 to $88.97 a barrel on Wednesday. Gold futures, which jumped $31.90 to $1,608.10 an ounce in the previous session, are rising $3.60 to $1,616.30 an ounce.
Among currencies, the U.S. dollar is trading at 78.17 yen, unchanged compared to the 78.17 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2305 compared to yesterday's $1.2158.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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