NEW YORK (The Street) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open in the U.S. on Thursday as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi vowed to keep rates low for the foreseeable future and U.S. job market data proved to be better than expected.
Macy's (M) and Costco (COST) jumped after the former's job cut announcement and the latter's robust same-store sales report.
Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 4.75 points, or 5.81 points above fair value, to 1,837.25. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were gaining 48 points, or 60.26 points above fair value, to 16,455, and Nasdaq futures were up 7.5 points, or 11.41 points above fair value, to 3,572.3.
The European Central Bank and Bank of England both left their key interest rates unchanged at current record low levels.
"We may experience a prolonged period of low inflation" Draghi said during his press conference after the ECB rate decision. "Against this background, the Governing Council strongly emphasizes that it will maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy for as long as necessary."
- Eurozone economic sentiment improved to a 2 1/2-year high in December, according to the European Commission. German industrial production increased by a greater than expected 1.9% in November.
- The U.K.'s FTSE was up 0.16% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.16%, holding gains amid the barrage of economic headlines.
- U.S. weekly initial jobless claims for the week of Jan. 4 fell to 330,000, beating expectations of 335,000. Meanwhile job cuts fell to the lowest level of the year in December, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Generally, expectations for Friday's December government job report have been rising especially after ADP private payroll employment data for December beat estimates on Wednesday.
- Costco (COST) was gaining 2.59% to $117 after posting a 3% rise in December same-store sales, exceeding estimates. J.C. Penney (JCP) was adding 3.26% to $7.61 after being upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" by Piper Jaffray. Macy's (M) was jumping 6.21% to $55.06 after announcing Wednesday it plans to cut 2,500 jobs, shut down five underperforming stores and open eight others.
- Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George is scheduled to speak on banking and the economy in Madison, Wis., at 1:30 p.m. Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota is set to participate in a public town hall meeting in Minneapolis at 8 p.m.
- The fourth-quarter earnings season unofficially begins Thursday with Alcoa's (AA) earnings after the markets close.
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