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S&P Points Higher as Jobless Claims Drop

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open Thursday, signaling that the S&P 500 could add to the all-time high set Wednesday as weekly jobless claims declined, easing concerns about the U.S. labor market.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 1 point, or 1.47 points above fair value, at 1,583.75 after the index shattered its intraday record of 1,576.09 set in October 2007. The Federal Reserve this week indicated it will maintain its asset buying program for the foreseeable future while Japan reasserted its aggressive monetary policies and Chinese imports jumped in March.

"The gain in equities is either saying QE is here to stay ... or that earnings season is going to be much, much better than expected. Maybe both," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at the broker-dealer BTIG LLC in New York said in a note Wednesday evening.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) was rising 2% to $66.81 in premarket trading after the housewares retailer fell in afterhours trading Wednesday after forecasting lower-than-expected current-quarter earnings and revenue as it continues be challenged by online rivals, a gravitation towards lower-margin merchandises, and a rise in coupon redemptions.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 14 points, or 13.76 points above fair value, at 14,747. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 5.5 points, or 4.86 points below fair value, at 2,847.75

Among the 5% of S&P 500 companies that have announced results so far, nearly three-quarters have exceeded expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Department of Labor reported that the number of U.S. residents filing for unemployment benefits fell by 42,000 to 346,000 in the week ended Apr. 6 from an upwardly-revised 388,000. Economists were expecting initial jobless claims to add up to 365,000.

The four-week moving average, which gives a better sense of the long-term trends, was 358,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average of 355,000.

The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits dropped by 12,000 to 3.079 million during the week ending Mar. 30 from an upwardly-revised 3.091 million. Economists were expecting continuing claims of 3.066 million.
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