(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on the Wall Street after a data showed that applications for jobless benefits fell to a four-year low.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 54 points to 13,322. The Nasdaq futures added 16.25 points to 2,739. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 7.50 points to 1,433.80.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits fell last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims declined 30,000 to 339,000 for the week ended October 6 from a revised 369,000, sharply down from projections of 370,000 applications.
Another government data showed that September import and export prices rose 1.1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, topping economists expectations of advance of 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
The Department of Commerce reported that the trade gap for August widened slightly more than forecast to $44.2 billion from $42.5 billion in July, while economists expected $44.0 billion.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks extended their losses to close in red as disappointing guidance from companies, including bellwether Alcoa (AA) and Chevron (CVX), raised worries about global economic growth. The Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book that the U.S. economy was expanding "modestly" last month.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: S, FAST, RT, RELL, ATNY
In corporate news, Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) surged 18.45 percent in premarket amid media reports that Japanese mobile carrier Softbank is considering acquiring two-thirds of the U.S.-based telecoms company.
Fastenal Co. (NASDAQ:FAST) added 2.20 percent after the industrial and construction supplies company reported an increase in quarterly earnings, helped by growth in sales. On Wednesday, the company declared a cash dividend of $0.21 payable on November 26, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business on October 29, 2012.
Ruby Tuesday Inc. (NYSE:RT) retreated 4.99 percent in premarket after operator of casual dining restaurants posted its second-quarter results. Its adjusted earnings per share missed market expectations by a penny.
Richardson Electronics Ltd. (NASDAQ:RELL) may be in focus after the provider of power grid and microwave tubes posted a sharp drop in quarterly profit amid fall in sales and contraction of gross margins.
API Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:ATNY) rose 4.38 percent following its quarterly report. The maker of radio frequency products said in response to unsolicited interest in acquiring one or more of its business units, the company has retained Jefferies & Company Inc. as its financial advisor.
GenCorp. Inc. (NYSE:GY) may be in focus after the manufacturer of aerospace and defense products slipped to a loss for the third quarter.
European markets traded higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.72 percent to trade at 7,256.99. France's CAC40 advanced 0.65 percent to trade at 3,387.59. U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.69 percent to trade at 5,816.74.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 0.81 percent to end at 2,102.87 Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.58 percent to finish at 8.546.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.38 percent to close at 20,999.05. India's BSE Sensex finished at 18,804.75, up 0.93 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures jumped 1.37 percent to $92.50 per barrel. Gold futures rose 0.54 percent to $1,774.7 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.42 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2928. The British pound added 0.27 percent against the greenback to 1.6049, and the dollar rose 0.46 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.5400.