Futures Rise as EU Concerns Ease; Earnings in Focus

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U.S. stock-index futures climbed on Thursday as worries about Europe cooled and traders reviewed a batch of earnings from high-profile companies.

Today's Markets

As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 37 points to 14589, S&P 500 futures gained 5 points to 1551 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 11.5 points to 2786.

The Dow and S&P 500 both took their third-biggest tumble of the year on Wednesday in what has been a particularly volatile week for Wall Street. The move came as Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) earnings disappointed analysts and concerns grew about the eurozone debt crisis.

Sentiment was rosier on the day. Spain sold medium-term debt at the lowest yield in more than two years, raising more than its maximum target. The sale helped ease concerns that the debt crisis in the 17-member currency bloc could flare up again following the messy Cypriot bailout. However, Italy's parliament failed to elect a president in its first round of voting, which knocked European markets off session highs.

There were also a slew of first-quarter earnings out. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) revealed adjusted profits and revenues that beat expectations. However, shares of the giant investment bank slid into the red. UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) posted mixed quarterly results ahead of the bell. Meanwhile, American Express (NYSE:AXP) weighed in after the bell Wednesday with mixed earnings.

In economic news, the Labor Department said the number of individuals filing for first-time jobless benefits rose by 4,000 last week to 352,000. Economists expected claims to rise to 350,000 from an initially reported 346,000. Another report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, due out later in the day, is expected to show the manufacturing sector in the U.S. Midwest having expanded at a slightly faster pace this month than in March.

Separately, Citigroup's (NYSE:C) equity analysts downgraded the U.S. markets to "underweight," while at the same time upgrading Japan to "neutral." The analysts see a 10% gain through the end of the year in global stocks, but only 4% for America.

Oil and gold were sharply higher. The benchmark U.S. crude contract climbed $1.19, or 1.4%, to $87.86 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline jumped 1.1% to $2.753 a gallon. Gold rallied $14.80, or 1.1%, to $1,397 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 0.5% to 2577, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.41% to 6270 and the German DAX ticked up 0.52% to 7543.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sold off by 1.2% to 13220 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.26% to 21513.