Stock futures trade higher ahead of jobless claims report

U.S. equity futures are trading higher ahead of the Thursday session on Wall Street.

The major futures indexes suggest gains at the open with the Nasdaq leading the way adding 0.8%.

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The main economic report that could influence the direction of trading will be jobless claims.

Expectations are for 680,000 claims, down from 719,000 the prior week. Continuing claims, which track the total number of unemployed workers collecting benefits, are anticipated to drop by 144,000 to 3.65 million. That would be the 12th straight week of declines and mark the lowest reading in a year.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.1%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite index added 0.1%.

Shares were little changed in the U.S. Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting on interest rate policy.

FED SAYS ECONOMIC RECOVERY PICKING UP, STILL NOT CONCERNED ABOUT INFLATION

The minutes revealed that Fed officials were encouraged last month by evidence the U.S. economy was picking up, but they showed no sign of moving closer to ending their bond purchases or lifting their benchmark short-term interest rate from nearly zero.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.66%

The benchmark S&P 500 inched up 0.1% to 4,079.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1% to 33,446.26. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1% to 13,688.84. 

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In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 48 cents to $59.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 44 cents to $59.77 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, gave up 44 cents to $62.72 per barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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