) -- Stock futures pointed to a stronger open Thursday as jobless claims unexpectedly shed 21,000 to a better-than-expected level of 434,000.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were up by 50 points, or 48 points above fair value, at 11,122. Futures for the

S&P 500

were 7 points higher, or 7 points above fair value, at 1186 and


futures were ahead by 8 points, or 8 points above fair value.

Stocks declined Wednesday as investors questioned whether expected stimulus measures from the

Federal Reserve

next week will be enough to keep the recovery on track.

Thursday's session brought key earnings report from oil companies.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings of $1.44 a share, topping analysts' estimates for earnings of $1.39 a share. The oil company said cash flow from operations and asset sales was $13.9 billion. Revenue rose to $95.3 billion, from $82.3 billion, which missed expectations for sales of $98.1 billion. The stock rose 0.8% to $66.16 in early trading.

Earlier, Europe's top oil company

Royal Dutch Shell


said third-quarter net earnings rose 7% to $3.46 billion on higher oil prices. Revenue gained 21% to $90.7 billion. Shares listed on the

New York Stock Exchange

ticked 0.7% higher to $63.21.


(CL) - Get Report

met consensus estimates with third-quarter earnings of $1.21 a share while lower sales of $3.94 billion missed expectations for revenue of $4.03 billion. The company also forecast double-digit earnings per share growth in 2010. The stock slipped 0.4% to $75.20 ahead of the opening bell.


(MMM) - Get Report

surpassed analyst calls for earnings of $1.51 a share by 2 cents and said global sales grew 11% to $6.9 billion. 3M expects adjusted full-year earnings to be in the range of $5.70 to $5.74 a share and organic sales volume growth is expected to be in the range of 13.5% to 14%. Shares traded 0.1% higher to $90.50.

Initial weekly claims shed 21,000, to 434,000 in the week ended Oct. 23, from 455,000, previously. Economists had expected the level to rise to 458,000, from an originally reported level of 452,000, according to


(MSFT) - Get Report

reports quarterly earnings after Thursday's closing bell. Analysts are expecting a profit of 55 cents a share, according to

Shares of



traded 5.4% higher to $8.53 ahead of Thursday's opening bell after the company said it swung to a third-quarter adjusted profit of 16 cents a share, topping expectations for earnings of 11 cents a share. Strong Android phone sales helped revenue rise 6% to a better-than-expected $5.8 billion.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

reported a drop in third-quarter earnings but topped estimates with an adjusted profit of 54 cents a share.

Pharmaceutical company


(AZN) - Get Report

saw profits drop as it set aside nearly half a billion dollars to settle claims of harmful side effects on one of its antipsychotic drugs.

Late Wednesday,


(V) - Get Report

surpassed profit expectations by a penny with adjusted earnings of 95 cents a share. The stock was down 2.3% to $78.08 ahead of Thursday's opening bell.



plans to recall 2.14 million vehicles globally because of an engine problem.

In commodity markets, the December crude oil contract gained 12 cents, to trade at $82.06 a barrel. Meanwhile, the December gold contract rose by $8.20 to $1,330.29 an ounce.

Meanwhile, the dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.7%, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 13/32, diluting the yield to 2.683%.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.2% while Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.2%. The FTSE in London rose 0.7% and the DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.6%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York


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