U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharply higher opening on the Wall Street following remarks by the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who said the bank could do whatever is needed to protect the beleaguered euro. An upbeat data on American jobless claims also boosted sentiment.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures jumped 146 points to 12,783. The Nasdaq Futures rose 35.50 points to 2,579. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 17.60 points to 1,352.50.
On the US economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits dropped sharply for the week ended July 21, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 35,000 to 353,000 last week from the previous week's revised figure of 388,000, while economists projected 380,000 applications.
The Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders for June rose 1.6 percent for the second straight month, while economists expected a 0.4 percent increase. Excluding transportation, orders fell 1.1 percent after a 0.8 percent rise in May and expectations were for a 0.1 percent gain.
At 10 am ET, a report from the National Association of Realtors may show that pending home sales increased 0.2 percent in June, lower than the 5.9 percent rise in the prior month.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended on a mixed note as investors digested mixed earnings reports that included weak results from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and a fall in new home sales.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: S, V, ZNGA, WDC, WFM, PHM
In corporate news, Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) surged 18.10 percent in premarket after the mobile service provider posted quarterly revenue that topped market expectations. The company, however, posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as an increase in operating expenses offset revenue growth.
Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) added 2.65 percent in premarket after the payments network reported stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings, spurred by double-digit revenue growth from data processing, service and international transactions. The company also announced a new $1 billion class A share buyback plan.
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) plunged 40.33 percent in premarket after the operator of online social games posted a quarterly loss and reduced its earnings guidance for the full year. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) fell 6.24 percent in premarket.
Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) gained 17.03 percent in the premarket after the data storage company posted a jump in quarterly earnings and revenue, that breezed past Wall Street projections as margins improved.
Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) advanced 10.97 percent in premarket after grocery chain boosted its guidance for the full year following a jump in quarterly earnings.
PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE:PHM) jumped 5.79 percent after the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based homebuilder swung to a quarterly profit, driven by gains in revenue and margins.
European markets traded higher after Draghi's comments at an investor conference in London. Germany's DAX advanced 1.69 percent to trade at 6,514.70. France's CAC40 traded 2.88 percent higher at 3,170.49. U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 1.22 percent to trade at 5,565.24. Draghi vowed that the central bank will do whatever is necessary to protect the euro.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 0.47 percent to finish at 2,126.00. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.92 percent to end at 8,443.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.08 percent to end at 18,892.79. India's BSE Sensex finished at 16,639.82, down 1.22 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.61 percent to $89.510 per barrel. Gold futures rose 0.53 percent to $1,621.2 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro traded 0.96 percent higher against the U.S. dollar at 1.2275 and the British pound jumped 1.16 percent against the greenback to 1.5679. The dollar dipped 0.10 percent higher against the Japanese yen to 78.0900.