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U.S. stock-index futures signaled Wall Street might extend its rally to fresh record highs as traders parsed through data on the labor market.

Today's Markets

As of 8:36 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures jumped 26 points to 15620, S&P 500 futures gained 4.8 points to 1723 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 9.3 points to 3231.

The Dow and broader S&P 500 both logged record highs on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve decided to hold off on scaling back its vast bond-buying program in a move that shocked Wall Street. Markets across Europe and Asia extended the gains seen in America's markets on Thursday, with many indexes rallying more than 1%. 

The benchmark 10-year Treasury bonded yield hovered about the 2.698% mark on Thursday, down sharply from 2.85% on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile gold, which had taken a beating on the back of tapering worries, surged $58.80, or 4.5%, to $1,366 a troy ounce. 

Traders will get a batch of data on the American economy on the day. Fed watchers are once again closely eyeing incoming data in a bid to gauge exactly when the central bank will begin the tapering process. 

The Labor Department said the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week to 309,000 from an upwardly revised 294,000 the week prior. Economists expected the number to rise to 330,000 from an initially reported 292,000. The Labor Department said readings for the last two weeks have been impacted by computer upgrade issues.

Existing home sales are forecast to have fallen to an annual rate of 5.25 million units in August from 5.39 million the month prior, economists said ahead of the 10:00 a.m. ET report from the National Association of Realtors. The housing market has been a major focus recently since speculation of tapering has sent bond yields, and by extension mortgage rates, higher. 

At the same time, traders will get a reading on the manufacturing sector in the mid-Atlantic region. The Philadelphia Fed's gauge is forecast to have climbed to 10 in September from 9.3 in August. 

Elsewhere, in corporate news, J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) was expected to settle a series of charges related to its $6 billion 'London Whale' loss in coming days, according to FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 1.1% to 2941, the English FTSE 100 jumped 1.4% to 6653 and the German DAX climbed 1.1% to 8732. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 surged 1.8% to 14766 and the Chinese Hang Seng zoomed higher by 1.7% to 23503.

 

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.