FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
Stock-index futures extended the prior session's Fed-fueled rally as traders analyzed a round of corporate earnings and mixed economic data.
As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 66 points to 12753, S&P 500 futures gained 6.3 points to 1326 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 5 points to 2466.
A slew of blue-chip and other big-name companies reported earnings on the day.
AT&T (T) posted a sizeable loss in the fourth quarter resulting from the break-up fee for its failed T-Mobile merger and a pension-related charge. Excluding the charges, its earnings on a per-share basis missed analysts' estimates by a penny. 3M (MMM) unveiled a fourth-quarter profit of $1.35 per share on $7.1 billion in sales, versus estimates of $1.31 on $7.09 billion.
Caterpillar (CAT) posted a fourth-quarter profit of $2.32 a share on $17.24 billion in revenue, compared to expectations of $1.73 on $16.05 billion. The world’s largest heavy machinery maker also said it sees its full-year 2012 profits hit $9.25 per share, beating estimates of $9.06.
There were also numerous key economic reports for traders to parse through.
Orders for long-lasting goods climbed 3% in December from November, topping estimates of a 2% gain. Excluding the transportation segment, orders rose 2.1%, beating estimates of a 0.7% gain and marking the biggest month-to-month jump since March 2011.
New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 377,000 last week from an upwardly revised 356,000 the week prior. Economists had expected claims to rise to 370,000 from an initial reading of 352,000.
Later in the morning, traders will get fresh data on sales of new homes.
Wall Street closed in the green on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve's vow to keep interest rates exceptionally low until 2014 and its hint that it may enact another round of quantitative easing. The afternoon rally pushed the Dow to its highest level since May, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to July highs. The Dow and S&P are both up more than 5% for the year, while the Nasdaq has soared 8.2% in January thus far.
Indeed, the move by the central bank helped traders overcome lingering anxiety about the debt crisis in Europe: "All concerns about sovereign debt are being put on the back burner," Manoj Ladwa, a senior trader at ETX Capital said in an interview with FOX Business on Thursday, noting the low interest rate environment has helped lift equity and risk markets.
On that front, debt negotiations in Greece dragged on for yet another day. Charles Dallara and Jean Lemierre, who represent private creditors, returned to Athens Thursday to attempt to strike a deal with the Greek government and its rescuers that has so far eluded those involved in the talks.
Commodities markets were broadly to the upside tracking weakness in the U.S. dollar, which recently fell 0.25% against a basket of six world currencies.
The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York rose $1.47, or 1.5%, to $100.87 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline climbed 0.83% to $2.857 a gallon.
In metals, gold jumped $18.70, or 1.1%, to $1,719 a troy ounce.
European blue chips rallied 1.3%, the English FTSE 100 climbed 1.1% to 5,786 and the German DAX soared 1.5% to 6,515.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei fell 0.39% to 8,849 and the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 20,439.