Stock Futures Rise Amid Upbeat Data

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Stock-index futures edged higher on Thursday after reports on the labor market and producer-level inflation reinforced Wall Street's optimistic sentiment on the U.S. economy.

Today's Markets

As of 8:38 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial Average futures climbed 24 points to 13154, S&P 500 futures gained 3.3 points to 1392 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9 points to 2712. 

The Dow is on a six session winning streak, having rallied 3.4% to the highest level since 2007 in so many days. The broader S&P 500 is also sitting right under its best level since 2008, while the Nasdaq is at its best since 2000. 

The outlook on the U.S. economy has grown increasingly bright as recent data on several sectors has impressed. Market participants will get a slew of reports on the day. 

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The number of individuals filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 to 351,000 last week, lower than the 356,000 economists forecast. Continuing claims, meanwhile, fell to 3.34 million, the lowest reading since August 2008. 

The recovery in the jobs market has gained momentum recently as weekly claims have remained under the 400,000 level, but many economists say the rate of improvement is too small to make more than a gradual reduction in the 8.3% unemployment rate. 

A separate report from Labor showed U.S. producer prices rose 0.4% in February, slightly less than the 0.5% expected. Excluding the food and energy components, prices were up 0.2%, in line with estimates. Energy prices were up 1.3% overall, with gasoline prices soaring 4.3% and heating oil leaping 5.3%. 

Economists from the Federal Reserve and elsewhere have said that a short-term spike in energy prices may not be sufficient to increase inflation expectations for the future, meaning they may not yet cause a longer-term inflation threat. The more closely-watched report on consumer prices is on tap for Friday. 

The markets will also get two regional Fed manufacturing reports. Manufacturing in the New York region expanded at the swiftest pace since June 2010, according to the New York Fed's  Empire State survey. The more closely-watched reading on the mid-Atlantic region from the Philadelphia Fed is on tap for 19:00 a.m. ET. 

Elsewhere, gold prices have tumbled $68.40, or 4.00%, over the past three sessions. However, the precious metal rebounded by $4.90, or 0.3%, to $1,648 a troy ounce in recent trading. 

The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York rose 17 cents, or 0.16%, to $105.60 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.27% to $3.338 a gallon. 

A gallon of regular at the pump costs $3.82 on average nationwide, up from $3.76 last month and $3.55 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge report. 

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields have jumped 0.246-percentage points over the past two sessions as traders have shed the safe-haven asset and moved into riskier markets. The yield fell another 0.021-percentage points on Thursday to 2.299%. 

Corporate News

Cisco (CSCO) unveiled plans to scoop up NDS for $5 billion. The London-based maker of software for television networks is partly owned by News Corp. (NWSA), the parent company of FOX Business Network. 

Foreign Markets

European blue chips rose 0.05%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.14% to 5937 and the German DAX climbed 0.22% to 7095. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 jumped 0.72% to 10123 and the Chinese Hang Seng rose 0.21% to 21354. 

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