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Futures Up on Earnings, Lower Jobless Claims

Futures were pointing to a higher open Thursday as investors cheered strong corporate earnings and as initial weekly claims shed 23,000 to 452,000.

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stock futures pointed to a higher open Thursday, building on the previous session's gains as investors cheered a fresh round of strong earnings reports and as initial weekly jobless claims fell by 23,000 to 452,000.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were up by 54 points, or 64 points above fair value, at 11,117. Futures for the

S&P 500

were up by 6 points, or 6 points above fair value, at 1180 and

Nasdaq

futures were higher by 16 points, or 16 points above fair value.

Stocks rallied Wednesday, buoyed by a weaker U.S. dollar and continued expectations for additional quantitative easing.

Encouraging earnings reports from several key companies buoyed market sentiment ahead of Thursday's opening bell.

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report

topped third-quarter profit expectations by 4 cents with earnings of $1.29 a share. Sales of $6.3 billion also came in slightly higher than expected and the company said global same-store sales rose 6%. The jumped 1.9% to $78.90 in early trading.

Shares of

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Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report

added 0.4% to $80.60 in premarket trading after the construction and mining equipment maker reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings of $1.22 a share.

UPS

(UPS) - Get United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B Report

saw its shares gain 0.4% to $69.90 early Thursday as the package delivery company said net income rose 81% to an adjusted profit of 93 cents a share, outpacing consensus estimates for 88 cents a share.

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

met expectations with adjusted earnings of 55 cents a share and sales of $31.6 billion topped the revenue target of $31.25 billion that analysts had expected.

Meanwhile, economic

growth in China slowed to 9.6% in the third quarter, from 10.3% in the previous quarter.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4% and Japan's Nikkei shed 0.05%. The FTSE in London gained 0.6% and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.7%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell by 23,000 to 452,000 in the week ended Oct. 16, according to the Labor Department. According to Briefing.com, economists had expected claims to drop to 455,000 from 462,000, previously.

At 10 a.m. ET, the Conference Board releases its leading indicators report for September. The market is expecting an increase of 0.3% after similar growth a month ago, according to Briefing.com.

Also at 10 a.m., the market gets a read on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region. Economists expect the October Philly Fed index to rise to 1.4, from a previous reading of -0.7.

At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Information Administration releases its weekly report on natural gas storage levels. Analysts polled by Platts expect supplies to increase by 86 to 90 billion cubic feet in the week ended Oct. 15.

Amazon.com

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reports earnings after the closing bell. According to Briefing.com, analysts are expecting a profit of 44 cents a share.

Shares of

Travelers

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increased 3% to $56.29 in early trading after the insurer said third-quarter earnings climbed 7% to $1 billion, or $2.11 a share. Excluding certain items, the company earned $1.81 a share, beating the $1.51 average estimate of analysts.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Xerox Holdings Corporation Report

reported third-quarter adjusted earnings that were a penny higher than expected at 22 cents a share. The company also raised its year-end guidance to an adjusted earnings range of 92 to 93 cents a share, from 88 to 92 cents a share, previously. Shares, however, were down 0.8% to $11.

Eli Lilly

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topped third-quarter earnings with an adjusted profit of $1.21 a share and raised year-end earnings guidance to between $4.65 and $4.75 a share on a non-GAAP basis from its previous range of between $4.50 and $4.65 a share. Shares were down by 0.03% to $36 in premarket trading.

PNC Financial

(PNC) - Get PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Report

said net earnings jumped to $1.1 billion, or $2.07 a share, from $559 million a year ago, crediting improvements in loan loss provisions. Adjusted earnings of $1.56 a share surpassed the profit of $1.36 a share that analysts had projected.

Nokia

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swung to a third-quarter operating profit of €403 million ($564.6 million) and said sales rose 5% to €10.3 billion.

In commodity markets, the November natural gas contract dropped 3 cents to trade at $3.51 per million British thermal units, and the December crude oil contract lost 19 cents, to trade at $82.35 a barrel. Meanwhile, the December gold contract gained $3 to $1,347.20 an ounce.

The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.3%, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged with a yield of 2.484%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.