Updated from 7:00 a.m. EDTPremarket futures were forecasting a higher open for stocks in the U.S. Thursday, as a decline in third-quarter GDP was narrower than expected and companies issued a heap of quarterly earnings statements. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 31 points at 958 and were 19 points above fair value. Nasdaq futures were better by 35 points at 1329 and were 24 points ahead of fair value. On Wednesday, stocks sold off into the close after a day of choppy trading, as investors mulled the Federal Reserve's decision to cut its key interest rate 50 basis points to 1%. Ahead of Thursday's session, the Department of Commerce reported that GDP contracted 0.3% in the third quarter, a narrower decline than expected by economists but down from growth of 2.8% in the second quarter. The Department of Labor's initial jobless claims for the week ended Oct. 25 registered at 479,000, above analyst estimates and level with the previous week. Additional intervention to bolster the economy looked to be in the works, as Bloomberg reported that the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may devote $500 billion to help avert home foreclosures. A smattering of corporate earnings were once again occupying traders' attention. Following Wednesday's close, insurance company MetLife ( MET) announced a decline in quarterly profit. Fellow insurer Prudential ( PRU) swung to a loss. Exchange operator CME Group ( CME) said profit declined year over year. Investors heard from a variety of energy companies. Integrated oil firm and Dow component Exxon Mobil ( XOM) posted a profit of $14.8 billion.
Murphy Oil ( MUR), on the other hand, reported a substantial increase in third-quarter earnings but lowered guidance for the fourth quarter. Oil and natural gas firm Apache ( APA) reported a profit for the third quarter that increased 94% from the year-ago period. Ahead of Thursday's trading, telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent ( ALU) reported a loss on falling revenue and charges stemming from the merger between Alcatel and Lucent. Cell-phone manufacturer Motorola ( MOT) swung to a loss and lowered guidance for the full year. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca ( AZN) reported net income that rose year over year. Consumer products maker Colgate-Palmolive ( CL) also announced an increase in profit on rising sales. On the merger front, Delta Air Lines ( DAL) completed its acquisition of Northwest Airlines ( NWA). Crude oil Thursday was gaining $1.62 to $69.12 a barrel. Gold was rising $12.60 to $766.60 an ounce. Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were falling in price. The 10-year note was down 20/32 to yield 3.93%, and the 30-year was down 10/32, yielding 4.25%. The dollar was rising sharply vs. the yen, but falling against the euro and pound. Overseas, European exchanges including the FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt were trading higher. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with substantial gains. ( Photo gallery: Trading Faces)