Futures Hold Gains After ECB Holds Rates Steady

By MarketsFOXBusiness

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

U.S. stock-index futures pushed higher Thursday as traders eyed rate decisions from key central banks and awaited American economic data.

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Today's Markets 

As of 8:07 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 48 points, or 0.29%, to 16455, S&P 500 futures advanced 4.3 points, or 0.23%, to 1837 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6 points, or 0.16%, to 3571.

It's central bank day. The European Central Bank and Bank of England held their benchmark interest rates steady at record lows as the economic recovery across the pond continue revving up. The moves matched Wall Street's expectations. Still, as the U.S. Federal Reserve suggested Wednesday, low levels of inflation are causing concerns in many developed countries across the board.

A press conference by ECB chief Mario Draghi could help shed more light on the powerful central bank's monetary-policy plans.

Also on the economic front, traders will get a reading on the labor market at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect 335,000 Americans to have filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, down by 4,000 from the week prior. Outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said employers announced plans to slash 30,623 jobs last month, down sharply from 45,314 the month before.

Both of these reports come ahead of the all-important monthly jobs reading from the Labor Department, due out on Friday. Economists at Goldman Sachs boosted their outlook on December jobs growth to 200,000 from 175,000 on Wednesday on the back of strong ADP data and other upbeat reports.

In corporate news, Macy's (NYSE:M) said it will lay off 2,500 workers as part of a plan to cut about $100 million in costs a year. Shares of the retailer surged on the news. Ford (NYSE:F) said it will increase its quarterly dividend 25% to 12.5 cents per share beginning in the first quarter. The shares traded higher by less than 1% in pre-market action.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) will pay $400,000 for an investigation into whether the world's biggest asset manager traded on non-public information. Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) shares plunged after the discount store cut its EPS outlook.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures rose 46 cents, or 0.5%, to $92.79 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline jumped 0.84% to $2.679 a gallon. Gold advanced $4.20, or 0.34%, to $1,230 a troy ounce.

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