U.S. stock-index futures trimmed earlier gains after a report showed that the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits unexpectedly climbed last week.
Mini Dow industrial average futures added 22.00 points to 12,766.00. The Nasdaq Futures advanced 8.00 points to 2,712.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 2.80 points to 1,366.80.
A data from the Labor Department showed jobless claims rose 13,000 to 380,000 from a revised 367,000, while economists projected claims to drop to 355,000. The four-week moving average for claims - a less volatile measure than the weekly figures - increased 4,250 to 368,500 last week.
In other economic data, the trade gap for February shrank to $46.0 billion from $52.5 billion in January, largest decrease in nearly 3 years. The producer price index for March was unchanged after a 0.4 percent rise in February, while economists expected a 0.3 percent advance. Core prices increased 0.3 percent.
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On Wednesday, U.S. stocks bounced back from sharp losses Tuesday, as surprise quarterly profit from Alcoa (NYSE: AA) provided impetus to the corporate-earnings season. Falling bond yields in Spain and Italy and better-than-expected American economic data also buoyed the sentiment.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: (GOOG, TSCO, WAB, RAD, AVID)
In corporate news, Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) will be reporting its first-quarter results after the market closes. Analysts' expect the search engine giant to earn $9.65 for the quarter on revenue of $8.15 billion. The stock ended at $635.96 on Wednesday.
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Tractor Supply Co. (Nasdaq:TSCO) added 2.93 percent to $95.00 in premarket after the operator of retail farm and ranch stores raised its earnings view for the full year, citing better-than-forecast sales in the first quarter spurred by strong average ticket and continued increases in transaction count. It now sees EPS in the range of $3.52 to $3.60 from prior expectations of $3.38 to $3.46.
Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE:RAD) fell 2.35 percent to $1.66 in premarket following its quarterly report. The drugstore chain posted a narrower quarterly loss, helped by same store sales growth, lower charges and an income tax benefit. Loss per share of 18 cents on revenue of $7.1 billion was however wider than Wall Street expectations of a loss of 14 cents.
Wabtec Corp. (NYSE: WAB) jumped 6.59 percent to $76.00 in premarket after the company raised its 2012 EPS forecast to about $4.80 from $4.30 projected earlier.
Fastenal Co. (Nasdaq:FAST) reported a jump in quarterly earnings, helped by sales growth of 20 percent. However, EPS missed consensus estimate by a penny. EPS were 34 cents on sales of $768.9 million.
Avid Technology Inc. (Nasdaq:AVID) may be in spotlight after the provider of digital media content-creation products guided first-quarter revenue below consensus. The company sees an non-GAAP operating loss for the quarter and expects revenue of around $152 million, trailing analysts' expectations of $161 million.
The European markets traded higher, with Germany's DAX climbing 0.72 percent to trade at 6,722.70. France's CAC40 advanced 0.22 percent to 3,244.95. Britain's FTSE 100 inched 0.07 percent higher to 5,638.63.
Asian markets ended in green, tracking global cues. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.78 percent to end at $2,350.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.93 percent to close at 20,327.32. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.70 percent to close at 9,524.79. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,332.62, up 0.77 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil added 0.52 percent to $103.23 per barrel. Gold declined 0.36 percent to $1,654.3 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro advanced 0.34 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3154 and the British pound gained 0.24 percent against the greenback to 1.5944. The dollar rose 0.14 percent against the Japanese yen to 80.9700.