Stock futures rise on jobless claim decline

NEW YORK (AP) ? Another set of successful bond auctions in Europe and a decline in applications for unemployment benefits are pushing U.S. stock futures higher Thursday.

Dow futures are up 38 points to at 12,542. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 futures rose 5 points to 1,307. The Nasdaq composite is up 10 points to 2,431.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits plummeted last week to 352,000, the fewest since April 2008. The decline added to recent evidence that the job market is strengthening.

Solid earnings from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley bolstered the prevailing optimism. Bank of America returned to profit in the final three months of the year while Morgan Stanley narrowed its losses.

The gains in U.S. futures follow increases in European and Asian markets.