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Futures Up as GDP Gains 1.7%, Claims Dip

Stock futures were pointing to a stronger open following better-than-expected GDP growth of 1.7% in the second quarter and a drop in initial jobless claims.



) -- Stock futures pointed to a higher open Thursday on news that the U.S. economy grew 1.7% in the second quarter and initial weekly jobless claims shed 16,000 to a better-than-expected level of 453,000.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were up by 21 points, or 31 points above fair value, at 10,801. Futures for the

S&P 500

were higher by 2 points, or 3 points above fair value, at 1143 and


futures were ahead by 5 points, or 7 points above fair value.

Stocks slumped Wednesday as strong energy inventory data and a corresponding boost to energy stocks failed to offset persistent concerns about economic growth prospects.

Eurozone debt concerns returned to the forefront as

Moody's downgraded Spain's debt by one notch to Aaa with a stable outlook and Irelandâ¿¿s central bank said a

bailout of

Anglo Irish Bank

could cost $46.3 billion.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.8%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 2%. The FTSE in London was slipping 0.2%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was down by 0.3%.

The U.S. economy grew 1.7% in the second quarter, according to the Department of Commerce's third and final read on gross domestic product. The increase was slightly stronger than the rise of 1.6% that economists had been expecting, according to

Concurrently, the Department of Labor said initial jobless claims shed 16,000 to 453,000 in the week ended Sept. 25. According to, economists had been expecting a milder decline to 457,000 from 469,000, previously.

Economists are anticipating a slowdown in Chicago-area manufacturing activity during the month of September when Chicago's Institute for Supply Management releases its purchasing managers'report at 9:45 a.m. According to, the index is expected to fall to 55, from August's reading of 56.7.

Federal Reserve

Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak about implementing financial reforms before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Information Administration will deliver its weekly read on natural gas storage levels. Natural gas supplies are expected to increase by 67 billion to 71 billion cubic feet in the week ended Sept. 24, according to a Platts survey of analysts.


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entered an agreement with the U.S. Treasury under which the Treasury would get roughly 1.655 billion common shares of AIG in exchange for $49.1 billion of preferred shares, enabling AIG to repay all of its debt to taxpayers..

Ahead of the EIA's report, natural gas for November delivery was gaining 2 cents to trade at $3.99 per million British thermal units. Meanwhile, the November crude oil contract was adding 63 cents to trade at $78.49 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the December gold contract was higher by $5.20, at $1,315.50 an ounce.

The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.3%, while the benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 8/32, diluting the yield to 2.474%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York


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