Futures Shrug Off Jobless Claims Increase

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open Thursday as initial weekly jobless claims came in largely as expected, rising 18,000 to 409,000.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 32 points, or 35 points above fair value, at 11,696. Futures for the S&P 500 were 4 points higher, or nearly 4 points above fair value, at 1,276, and Nasdaq futures were ahead by 7 points, or 8 points above fair value.

The number of people filing for jobless claims for the first time rose by 18,000 to 409,000 during the week ended Jan. 1 from a revised 391,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected claims to increase by 17,000, according to Briefing.com.

Stocks strengthened Wednesday as the ADP employment change report showed better-than-expected private-sector job growth of 297,000, and activity within the services sector also grew by more than anticipated in December.

Economists expect the Labor Department's unemployment report on Friday to show that the economy added 150,000 jobs in December and that the unemployment rate ticked down to 9.7%, from 9.8%, according to Briefing.com.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1%, and stocks in Japan rose to a nearly eight-month high on a weaker yen . The Nikkei gained 1.4%. London's FTSE was adding 0.7%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 1.4%.

ARM Holdings ( ARMH) saw its stock jump 8.5% to $23.73 ahead of the bell on news that the next generation of Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows operating system will work with the "system on a chip" designs of ARM .

Shares of casual-dining restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday ( RT) were up 4.9% at $14.69 after it beat quarterly earnings expectations by 2 cents per share with a profit of $4.6 million, or 7 cents per share.

Shares of BP ( BP) were up 1.7% to $47.29 in early trading after a U.S. presidential commission diffused blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill across BP's contractors and regulators in addition to BP.

Sprint ( S) will offer a version of Research in Motion's ( RIMM) PlayBook tablet that will run on the wireless company's next-generation network . Sprint's stock was up 1.5% to $4.69 ahead of Thursday's opening bell.

Shares of Massey Energy ( MEE) were down 2.1% to $55.20 in premarket trading after it said fourth-quarter coal shipments were lower than previously forecast.

In commodity markets, the February crude oil contract was trading 46 cents lower at $89.84 a barrel. The February gold contract was down by $5.20 to trade at $1,368.50 an ounce.

The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index up by 0.2%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 9/32, diluting the yield to 3.428%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.
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