U.S. markets opened to the upside on Thursday despite concerns over Russia banning Western food imports. On the economic front, the Labor Department reported fewer Americans filed unemployment benefits last week. Initial jobless claims came in 289,000 for the latest week, that was less than the 305,000 economists had expected. The average number of people filing for unemployment over the past month is now at an eight-year low. Bank of America (BAC) is said to be close to a record deal with the Department of Justice to settle its involvement in the mortgage crisis. On the earnings front, Wendy's (WEN) was one of the few companies to report before the opening bell on Thursday. The fast-food chain reported second quarter profit more than doubled as a result of selling some of its restaurants. Wendy's said it would continue with this strategy and plans to sell its company-owned stores in Canada. TheStreet's Susannah Lee has the details from New York.

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