Stocks were set for a higher start Thursday amid strong overseas sessions, as decent profit news and a handful of brokerage upgrades kept the mood buoyant.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading 6 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 5-point gain. The 10-year Treasury note was down 1/32 in price to yield 5.07%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Overseas markets rose across the board, with London's FTSE 100 up 1.4% to 5586 and Germany's Xetra DAX adding 1.5% to 5386. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.1% overnight to 14,471, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.2% to 15,435.

Oil and other commodities gained, with July crude recently adding 66 cents to $69.80 a barrel. Gold gained $11 to $577.50 an ounce, copper rose 7.5 cents to $3.05 a pound, and silver gained 41 cents to $10.15 an ounce.

U.S. stocks rose from seven-month lows Wednesday as investors finally went bargain-hunting despite a slightly higher-than-expected reading on core inflation. For the day, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 111 points to 10,817, while the S&P 500 added 6 points to 1230 and the

Nasdaq Composite

gained 13 points to 2086. It was the Nasdaq's first up session in nine.

On the economic docket Thursday are first-time jobless claims, the Philly Fed index and a report on industrial production in May. Investors will also see another earnings report from a big securities firm, this time

Bear Stearns

( BSC).

Stocks got some support from Wall Street analysts Thursday as UBS upgraded semiconductor outfits

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

and

Sandisk

(SNDK)

to buy. The brokerage also raised

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

to buy and upped its price target on the retailer by $8 to $36.

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

raised earnings guidance for 2006, saying it expects to report earnings of $2.90 a share, up from its previous range of $2.80 to $2.85. In 2007, however, a higher tax rate and stock options expense could result in slightly slower growth than previously expected, the company said. Citigroup downgraded the shares in the wake of the announcement.

To view Ana Dane's video take on today's premarket action, click here

.

Philips Electronics

(PHG) - Get Report

agreed to acquire Nasdaq-traded

Intermagnetics

for $1.26 billion, or $21.38 a share, expanding its presence in a technology for medical imaging. The price is roughly 30% above Intermagnetics Wednesday close.

Pier 1's

first-quarter loss widened to $23.2 million, or 27 cents a share, from $12.5 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. The retailer's adjusted loss of 26 cents a share matched estimates. "Customer traffic remained weak" in the quarter, Pier 1 said.