2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes the Challenger Jobs Cut survey for August at 7:30 a.m. EDT, the ADP Employment Change index for August at 8:15 a.m., weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m., factory orders for July at 10 a.m., and the ISM Services index for August at 10 a.m.
3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday finished higher as investors awaited indications about a U.S. military strike against Syria. The S&P 500 posted its biggest advance in two weeks, gaining 0.8% to 1,653.08, bolstered by the Federal Reserve which said summer spending on homes and automobiles helped provide "modest to moderate" growth, a trend that has also helped sustain this year's rally in equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7% to 14,930.87 while the Nasdaq jumped 1% to 3,649.04.
4. -- A Senate panel voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. The vote Wednesday was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week. The resolution would permit the president to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations, The Associated Press reported.
5. -- Sweden's SKF, the world's largest maker of bearings, agreed to buy Kaydon (KDN) for $1.25 billion in cash, to expand its operations in the U.S. Kaydon is being acquired for $35.50 a share, a 22% premium to Kaydon's closing price on Wednesday of $29.10. "We have followed the development of Kaydon for a long time. They have a strong product portfolio, strong management and a solid financial performance," SKF CEO Tom Johnstone said in a statement.
6. -- Qualcomm (QCOM - Get Report) unveiled the Toq smartwatch on Wednesday, the same day Samsung unveiled its own smartwatch -- the Galaxy Gear -- in an event in Berlin. Qualcomm's Toq can play music and handle phone calls and messages. Qualcomm said it would begin selling the device in the fourth quarter. Samsung will begin shipping the $299 Galaxy Gear smartwatch in September, ahead of a similar product expected from Apple (AAPL - Get Report).
7. -- BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) intends to run a fast auction process that could be wrapped up by November, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Since BlackBerry announced in August that it had formed a special committee of board members to "explore strategic alternatives," the smartphone maker has held preliminary talks with parties interested in buying part or all of the company, one of the people told the Journal BlackBerry has narrowed its list of potential bidders to seek out in a sales process expected to begin soon, the person told the newspaper. People close to the process said that Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Bain Capital are expected to consider bids, as well as some Asian tech companies including Chinese smartphone and computer maker Lenovo, the Journal reported.