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Wall Street Looks To Extend Gains

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U.S. stock futures point to a higher open Thursday morning following solid gains in the previous session as European debt concerns eased slightly and the Biege Book suggested only a slight slowdown in the pace of economic recovery. Economic data related to weekly jobless claims and trade gap data will be in traders' focus. Positive trading across the Asian markets in reaction to a positive employment report from Australia might lift market sentiment.

As at 6.15 a.m ET, the Dow futures were up 35.00 points, the S&P 500 futures were up 4.00 points, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures were up 7.50 points.

On the economic front, the Labor Department will release its customary weekly jobless claims report for the week ended September 4 at 8.30 a.m. ET. Economists expect jobless claims to decline to 470,000 for the week from 472,000 reported for the previous week.

The Commerce Department will release a report on trade gap for July at 8.30 a.m. ET. Economists project that the trade gap narrowed marginally to $47.2 billion from $49.9 billion deficit reported for June.

In other global economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the jobless rate unexpectedly declined to 5.1% in August from 5.3% in July, with 30,900 news jobs created during the month.

The members of the policy board of the Bank of Korea voted to hold interest rates at the current level of 2.25 percent. That surprised many analysts who had expected a hike of 25 basis points to 2.50% after the central bank had unexpectedly raised rates by 25 basis points from the record low of 2.00 percent on July 9.

Traders might react to announcements/results released after the markets closed in the previous session.

Men's Wearhouse, Inc. (MW) said that its second quarter profit rose 8% from last year, helped by higher sales and improved margins. The company's quarterly earnings per share and sales came in above analysts' expectations. The company also provided an upbeat outlook for the third quarter.

Oil Light sweet crude oil for October delivery is presently quoted at $75.15 a barrel, up $0.48 a barrel from its previous close of $74.67 a barrel in New York on Wednesday.

Dollar The US dollar is trading higher against the pound, but paring gains against the euro. Against the yen, the dollar is still hovering at a 15-year low.

World Markets Asian markets open for trading on Thursday, ended in positive territory, except the Chinese market, taking cues from Wall Street where the major averages ended in positive territory with solid gains as European debt concerns eased considerably following auction of Portugal's sovereign bonds. Better than expected unemployment rate in Australia and bargain hunting at select stocks at lower levels helped the major markets end in positive territory, as concerns about double-dip recession fades and optimism about sustaining economic recovery, albeit at a slower pace, gains momentum. The European pared early losses are presently trading in positive territory.

by RTT Staff Writer

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