FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
Stock-index futures climbed modestly on Thursday as a solid debt auction in Spain lifted sentiment and traders mulled a slew of first-quarter earnings reports.
As of 9:17 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 17 points to 12974, S&P 500 futures rose 1.9 points to 1383 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 5 points to 2699.
It's been another volatile week on Wall Street: stocks posted big gains on Tuesday just to pull back on Wednesday. The debt crisis in Europe has once again come back into focus as the yield on Spanish and Italian debt has started climbing amid concerns about the countries' abilities to close their fiscal gaps amid a weak economy.
The closely-eyed bond sale in Spain saw strong demand on Thursday. The country sold 2.54 billion euro in two and 10-year notes, better than its target of 2.5 billion. Bid-to-cover ratios, which are another measure of demand, also improved markedly from the last auction. Still, the strength came at a price: the borrowing cost on both increased, with the 10-year yield averaging 5.743%.
With anxiety still high, the cost to insure Spain's debt stayed near record highs, according to London-based Markit, which records spreads on sovereign credit default swaps. European blue chips fell 0.6%, while the U.S. dollar strengthened by 0.32% against a basket of six world currencies tracked by the dollar index.
Earnings season is also in full swing, with a slew of major companies reporting generally upbeat results on the day.
Bank of America (BAC) posted a first-quarter profit of 3 cents a share, or 31 cents excluding an adjustment related to credit spreads. Analysts were looking for the bank to earn 12 cents. Revenue came in at $22.28 billion, lighter than the $22.51 billion expected.
Morgan Stanley (MS) posted a first-quarter loss of 5 cents a share on continuing operations. Excluding a one-time charge, the investment bank earned 71 cents, much stronger than the 44 cents analysts expected. Sales came in at $8.9 billion, stronger than the $7.31 billion expected.
Verizon Communications (VZ) unveiled a first-quarter EPS of 59 cents on sales of $28.24 billion. The blue-chip technology company was forecast to earn 58 cents on $28.17 billion.
Travelers (TRV) revealed a first-quarter operating profit of $2.01 a share on sales of $6.39 billion. Analysts expected the Dow component to earn $1.52 a share on $5.71 billion.
Jobs, Manufacturing Data on Tap
There are also several important economic reports on tap for later in the day. The number of individuals applying for first-time unemployment benefits fell to 386,000 last week from a revised 388,000 the week before. Economists were expecting claims to drop to 370,000 from an initially reported 380,000.
Manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region, as tracked by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, is forecast to have expanded at a slightly slower pace in April than in March. Another regional survey from the New York Fed released earlier in the week showed a considerably sharper-than-expected drop in the pace of expansion.
Sales of existing, single-family homes are expected to have risen to an annualized rate of 4.62 million units in March from 4.59 million the month prior.
Commodity markets were modestly to the upside. Crude oil traded in New York rose 15 cents, or 0.15%, to $102.82 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed a penny, or 0.23%, to $3.21 a gallon.
In metals, gold dropped $4.80, or 0.29%, to $1,635 a troy ounce. The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury gained 0.002-percentage point to 1.981%.
European blue chips fell 0.6%, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.27% to 5761 and the German DAX dipped 0.6% to 6692.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slumped 0.82% to 9588 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 1% to 20995.