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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were higher Thursday ahead of government reports on producer prices and jobless claims.

European stocks rose and Asian stocks got a lift from certain economy-boosting measures in China. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.7% percent to close at 9,524.79.

Stocks in Asia rose on local media reports that Shenzhen, a prosperous exporting region bordering Hong Kong, plans new measures to boost its economy, analysts said, The Associated Press reported.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial and continuing jobless claims, and producer price index data for March. Both will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Economists are calling for initial claims of 355,000, down from last week's 357,000. The producer price index is seen up 0.4% in March; the core number, which excludes food and energy costs, is projected to rise 0.2%.


Google ( GOOG), the Internet search giant, is expected to report first-quarter earnings after Thursday's closing bell, and analysts expect a profit of $9.65 a share on revenue of $8.14 billion.

Think Equity previewed Google's numbers last week and reiterated its buy rating on the stock and $714 price target. Think Equity is expecting above-consensus earnings of $9.91 a share on revenue of $8.15 billion.

Google shares closed Wednesday at $635.96.


Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) said Thursday it has sent an oil response team to the Gulf of Mexico after a 10-square-mile oil slick was seen near two of its platforms.

A statement from Shell Oil said the company notified the National Response Center of what it describes as "a light sheen in the central portion of the Gulf of Mexico, between the Mars and Ursa production areas" about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.

Shell Oil said it doesn't know the source of the oil slick but hasn't found evidence it originated from its Mars or Ursa wells in the Gulf.

Royal Dutch Shell shares were off 4% in European trading.

"There is a nervousness over the whole spill situation, following Deepwater Horizon and Total in the North Sea, so people are going to sell first, ask questions later," an analyst told The Wall Street Journal.


Sony ( SNE), the consumer-electronics giant, confirmed Thursday that it was cutting 10,000 jobs, or about 6% of its global work force, and forecast that it will make its TV business, which has lost money for eight straight years, profitable again by fiscal 2014.

Sony said on Tuesday it projects an annual loss of 520 billion yen ($6.4 billion), much wider that earlier predictions of a loss of 220 billion yen, and its worst loss ever.


Research In Motion ( RIMM) is preparing to open stores across the Middle East, a region where demand for its BlackBerry phones has held up better, Bloomberg reported.

The company is in the final stages of negotiating a lease on a flagship store in Dubai.

"We're getting the first one up and running and then we'll be looking at other cities across the Middle East -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar," said Sandeep Saihgal, managing director of RIM's Middle East business, in an interview with Bloomberg.

RIM has been losing market share in the U.S., where consumers have turned to Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone.


-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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