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Stock Futures Hold Gains Despite Rise in Jobless Claims

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were signaling a stronger open Thursday as investors became increasingly confident about the second-quarter earnings season after a spate of consensus-topping reports from companies such as eBay (EBAY) and IBM (IBM - Get Report).

Meanwhile, the broader markets were holding onto gains despite an increase in initial jobless claims.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were adding 42 points, or 51.30 points above fair value, at 12,902. Futures for the S&P 500 were spiking 4.7 points, or 4.17 points above fair value, at 1372. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 were gaining 15.5 points, or 15.68 points above fair value, at 2636.

Google (GOOG - Get Report), the Internet search giant, is expected by analysts Thursday to post fiscal second-quarter earnings of $10.05 a share on revenue of $8.42 billion.

Google posted a profit of $10.08 a share on revenue of $8.14 billion in the first quarter and earnings of $8.74 a share on revenue of $6.92 billion in last year's second quarter.

Google is expected to issue its report after Thursday's closing bell.

Shares were up 0.56% in premarket trading.

Microsoft (MSFT) said Windows 8, the upgrade to its operating system, will go on sale Oct. 26. The software is designed to work on both PCs and tablet computers.

The software giant also reports quarterly results Thursday and analysts expect Microsoft to post fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share on revenue of $18.11 billion. The estimates don't take into account a write-down of $6.2 billion related to Microsoft's 2007 acquisition of aQuantive.

IBM eased past Wall Street's expectations in its earnings Wednesday but fell short on revenue, mainly because of foreign currency pressures.

For the full year, IBM lifted its earnings outlook, saying it now expects a profit of at least $15.10 a share, up from a prior view of $15 a share and ahead of consensus at $15.06 a share.

Shares were spiking more than 2.5%.

Internet giant eBay on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $3.39 billion. Analysts were looking for profit of 55 cents a share on revenue of $3.41 billion.

eBay saw huge growth in at its PayPal division, which saw revenue rise 26% year over year.

After suffering through a botched initial public offering of Facebook (FB) and a two-notch ratings downgrade, Morgan Stanley (MS) reported a big earnings miss as revenue and earnings per share fell short of expectations.

Shares were tumbling nearly 5%.

The major U.S. equity averages finished with solid gains Wednesday as investors grew progressively more optimistic about second-quarter reporting season and as the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report that the economy continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace.

The U.S. economic calendar on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims, existing home sales, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business outlook survey and the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators.

The Labor Department said that initial jobless claims for the week ended July 14 rose 34,000 to 386,000 from the week before upwardly revised 352,000. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected that claims would rise to 365,000.

The four-week moving average of claims declined by 1,500 to 375,500.

Continuing claims for the week ended July 7 rose by 1,000 to 3.314 million.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors is likely to say that existing home sales rose to a 4.63 million an annual rate in June from 4.55 million in May, according to the consensus view of economists.

At the same time, the Philly Fed's business outlook index is expected to have improved to minus 8 in July from minus 16.6 in June.

Also, the Conference Board's leading economic indicators index might have fallen 0.1% in June after increasing 0.3% in May, according to economists.

The FTSE in London was trading up 0.34% and the DAX in Germany was rising 0.84% as the European markets traced the optimism found in the Asian markets from various positive earnings surprises in the U.S. and Chinese stimulus hopes. They also got a boost from better-than-expected earnings from Swiss drug maker Novartis (NVS).

The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up 1.66% and the Nikkei in Japan settled ahead by 0.79%.

September crude oil futures were spiking by $1.01 to $91.18 a barrel. August gold futures were up $12.10 to $1,582.90 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 2/32, lifting the yield to 1.509%, while the greenback was inching lower by 0.35%, according to the dollar index.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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