NEW YORK (AP) ? Stock futures edged higher Thursday after the government reported a decline in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits and as JPMorgan Chase announced strong earnings.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 2 percent in premarket trading after the bank reported that higher investment banking fees raised its net income beyond analyst expectations.
Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,317 in premarket trading. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 28, or 0.2 percent, to 12,453. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 13, or 0.5 percent, to 2,357.
Applications for unemployment benefits fell to a three-month low last week, a sign that companies are laying off fewer workers. At 405,000, the figure is still above the 375,000 that signals healthy job growth.
In a separate report, the government also said an increase in car sales and a drop in gas prices pushed up retail sales slightly in June.
Investors are closely watching negotiations in Washington over raising the U.S. government’s debt limit. Ratings agency Moody’s threatened late Wednesday to lower the U.S. credit rating below the highest grade of triple-A, citing the risk the government might fail to make its debt payments if an agreement isn’t reached by an Aug. 2 deadline.
In Europe, the threat resurfaced that Italy’s government could lose control of the country’s debt crisis. Yields on Italy’s debt jumped to their highest level since the introduction of the euro. A debt default for an economy as large as Italy’s would hurt lending across the globe.
YUM Brands Inc. rose 2.7 percent in premarket trading after the owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC fast-food chains said its earnings were boosted by strong international sales.
Data storage equipment maker Emulex Corp. rose 1.3 percent in premarket trading after a Morgan Keenan analyst raised his rating for the company, saying he expected profit to grow for the rest of the year.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke begins a second day of testimony before Congress Thursday. On Wednesday, Bernanke’s remarks that the Fed would be open to new economic stimulus measures sent stocks sharply higher. A speech by another Fed official saying the central bank had exhausted its power to stimulate the economy cooled the rally. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.08, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,317.72. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.73, or 0.4 percent, to 12,491.61. The Nasdaq composite rose 15.01, or 0.5 percent, to 2,796.92.