(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on the Wall Street ahead of a congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke even as increased hopes of further stimulus boosted sentiment.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures added 55.00 points to 12,474.00. The Nasdaq Futures rose 12.75 points to 2,562.75. Standard and Poor's 500 futures rose 9.00 points to 1,324.50.
On the US economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits dropped last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 12,000 to 377,000 last week from a revised 389,000, while economists projected 380,000 claims.
On possibility for additional monetary stimulus, investors will keenly look for any comments from Bernanke, who is scheduled to testify before Congress at 10 am ET.
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In global news, China's central bank slashed benchmark interest rates for the first time since 2008 to support growth. Spain sold 2.1 billion euros ($2.62 billion) of bonds, slightly more than its target, in a successful auction.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks rallied, closing higher by over 2 percent, amid increasing hopes that central bankers will act to stimulate the struggling global economy.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: MOH, MW, LULU, NAV, PLL, TUES, SJM
In corporate news, Molina Healthcare Inc. (NYSE:MOH) plunged 24.30 percent in premarket after the Medicaid insurer withdrew its earnings forecast for the full year, citing uncertainties related to medical costs in Texas.
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Men's Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE:MW) tumbled 21.06 percent in premarket after the retailer of men's apparel guided second quarter below market expectations. The company sees second-quarter EPS of $1.12 to $1.13, trailing expectations of $1.22 per share.
Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) slumped 11.11 percent in premarket after the athletic apparel company guided second quarter earnings and sales below consensus.
Navistar International Corp. (NYSE:NAV) retreated 12.08 percent after the truck manufacturer posted a surprise quarterly loss and slashed its profit outlook.
Pall Corp. (NYSE:PLL) lost 8.48 percent after the supplier of filtration equipments posted lower-than-expected third quarter earnings.
J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE:SJM) reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, yet the maker of branded food products issued full-year forecast that trailed Wall Street projections.
Tuesday Morning Corp. (NASDAQ:TUES) may be in focus after the seller of decorative home accessories sacked Kathleen Mason as its chief executive and cut its earnings and sales view for 2012.
European markets rose sharply, with Germany's DAX up 1.69 percent at 6,197.28. France's CAC40 advanced 1.26 percent to 3,096.96. The U.K. FTSE 100 added 1.63 percent to trade at 5,472.06.
Among Asian markets, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.69 percent to end at 2,293.51. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.85 percent to close at 18,678.29. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.24 percent to close at 8,639.72. India's BSE Sensex finished at 16,649.05, up 1.18 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures rallied 1.22 percent to $85.320 per barrel. Gold futures added 1.14 percent to $1,635.3 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro traded 0.14 percent higher against the U.S. dollar at 1.2599, and the British pound rose 0.53 percent against the greenback to 1.5578. The dollar gained 0.61 percent against the Japanese yen to 79.6700.