(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher opening on the Wall Street amid hopes U.S. lawmakers will reach a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures gained 59 points to 13,016. The Nasdaq futures advanced 15.75 points to 2,676.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures rose 6.70 points to 1,414.10.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is meeting with congressional leaders today to make progress on budget talks. Speaker of the House John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, expressed optimism that lawmakers engaged in budget talks can reach an agreement in budget discussions.
President Barack Obama said at the White House he hoped to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff before Christmas. Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed that the gross domestic product grew at a 2.7 percent annual pace in the third quarter, up from its initial estimate of a 2.0 percent increase. Economists expected growth to be upwardly revised to 2.8 percent.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits declined last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 23,000 to 393,000 for the week ended Nov. 24 from a revised 416,000, but came in slightly higher than economists projection of 390,000 applications.
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Meanwhile, pending home sales for October is due at 10 am ET, with expectations of a 0.8 percent rise following a 0.3 percent increase in September.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed in green, reversing earlier losses, following positive remarks on the budget negotiations in Washington.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: RIMM, TIF, KR, TGT, KSS, GPS, GES, ARO
In corporate news, Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) soared 11.80 percent in premarket after Goldman Sachs (GS) upgraded its rating on the stock to "buy" from "neutral".
Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) retreated 7.78 percent in premarket after the jeweler reduced its 2012 forecast yet again. The company's third-quarter earnings trailed market expectations amid sharp contraction of margins.
Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) rose 4.03 percent in premarket after the supermarkets operator raised its 2012 guidance following stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings.
Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) shed 2.13 percent in premarket after the company said November comparable-store sales fell 1.0 percent. Wall Street analysts had expected TGT's sales to grow 2.1 percent.
Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS) tumbled 8.70 percent in premarket after the operator of family-oriented department stores posted November sales that were lower than expectations.
Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) lost 2.29 percent in premarket after the clothing company's November comparable sales trailed market expectations.
Guess? Inc. (NYSE: GES) jumped 6.93 percent in premarket after the apparel company posted better-than-expected revenue for the third quarter.
Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) retreated 7.08 percent in premarket after the casual apparel company issued a downbeat outlook for the fourth quarter.
Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) may be in focus after the retailer of decorative home furnishings and gifts, forecast a rise in earnings for the third quarter as comparable sales grew due to rise in store traffic and higher average ticket.
European markets traded in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.74 percent to trade at 7,397.68. France's CAC40 added 0.92 percent to trade at 3,547.56. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.87 percent to trade at 5,853.95.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index declined 0.51 percent to finish at 1,963.49. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.99 percent to finish at 9,400.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.99 percent to end at 21,922.89. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,170.91, up 1.75 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures jumped 1.23 percent to $87.57 per barrel. Gold futures added 0.33 percent to $1,724.60 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro advanced 0.27 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2988, and the British pound inched 0.14 percent higher to 1.6037. The dollar lost 0.01 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.0700.