Stock Futures Push Higher After Jobless Claims Drop

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures rose Thursday on upbeat profits from The Dow Chemical Company ( DOW) and Akamai Technologies ( AKAM) and a report showing a dip in U.S. joblessness.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 8 points, or 8.56 points above fair value, to 1,582.

Dow Chemical was jumping 2.9% to $33.10 after reporting earnings that beat estimates by 8 cents on revenue that fell short on estimates as pricing and profit margins improved. Still the company isn't anticipated any acceleration in the U.S. recovery this year.

Akamai Technologies was surging 18.4% to $42.72 after the Internet content delivery network on Wednesday delivered stronger-than-forecast second-quarter guidance and first-quarter results as the company continues to benefit from the growing popularity of Internet video. Akamai was upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" at JPMorgan after the report.

The Labor Department reported that weekly initial jobless claims fell 16,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Apr. 20 and that the four-week moving average looking at longer-term trends decreased 4,500 to 357,500. Continuing claims fell 93,000 to 3 million in the week ended Apr. 13. Economists, on average, were expected initial claims of 351,000 and continuing claims of 3.06 million., ( AMZN) the online retailer, is expected by Wall Street on Thursday after the markets close to post first-quarter earnings of 8 cents a share on revenue of $16.14 billion. For the same quarter last year, the company earned 28 cents a share on revenue of $13.2 billion. Shares were up 0.51% to $270.15.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining 49 points, or 50.7 points above fair value, to 14,664. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 18.5 points, or 15.68 points above fair value, to 2,842.5.

Scott Wren, the St. Louis-based senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, noted that at this point in the earnings season the probability of a big upside or downside in earnings surprises relative to expectations is quite small.

"At this point in the cycle, earnings growth almost always slows down to a more modest pace. Gone are the days of huge year-over-year gains as the economy climbs out of the recessionary hole," Wren commented in a note. "The comparisons get tougher as the recovery moves ahead and analysts get closer to reality with their individual company estimates."

Starbucks ( SBUX) is forecast to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share on sales of $3.59 billion after the close of the regular trading session. Shares were up 0.95% to $60.40.

Verizon Communications ( VZ) hired advisers to prepare a possible cash and stock bid of $100 billion to take full control of Verizon Wireless from joint venture partner Vodafone ( VOD), two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Vodafone shares were adding 3.87% to $30.74. Verizon was up 0.87% to $52.25.

Exxon Mobil ( XOM) was trading sideways at $89.40 after the oil giant posted first-quarter earnings of $2.12 a share on revenue that slid to $108.81 billion as production fell 3.5% on an oil-equivalent basis. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $2.05 a share on revenue of $119.83 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

June crude oil futures were up 43 cents to $91.86 and June gold futures were popping $21.2 to $1,444.90.

The FTSE 100 in the U.K. was off 0.14% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.11%. The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed up 0.6% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng index finished ahead by 0.98%.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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