NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures retained the bulk of their gains Thursday after the government said Americans filing for jobless benefits fell to its lowest reading since early July.
U.S.-China Currency Tensions in Washington
U.S. and China are headed towards a currency war, one international expert told lawmakers, as Congress considers a tariff on Chinese imports. Video courtesy of Reuters.
The Labor Department reported the count of those filing for unemployment benefits fell 14,000 last week to 442,000.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lately up 33 points at 10,820. Those for the S&P 500 were up 4.8 points at 1,169.40, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 7.5 points to 1,959.
U.S. stocks ended lower Wednesday, returning about half the prior session's gains after a downgrade of Portugal's credit rating and weaker-than-expected demand for an auction of 5-year notes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 52 points, the Nasdaq Composite lost 16 points and the S&P 500 fell 6 points.
The session also was marked by big moves in the dollar -- the biggest one-day gain vs. the euro since Jan. 20 and the biggest one-day assault on the Japanese yen since Dec. 4. The dollar /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 81.73, -0.11, -0.14%) was weaker against key rivals on Thursday.
Thursday will also feature an auction of $32 billion in seven-year notes and testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the topic of exit strategy.TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL MARKET STORIES
Global Dowâ¢ MarketWatch Topics: Greece â¢ Asia Markets | Europe Markets | LatAm Markets â¢ Canadian Markets | Israel Stocks | London â¢ U.S.: Market Snapshot | After Hours /conga/story/misc/international.html 53366
Overseas, attention turns to a two-day gathering of European leaders amid disputes throughout the euro zone on what type of support, if at all, to offer Greece. The European Central Bank relaxed collateral rules that will make it easier for Greek lenders who seek funding next year.
The Greek stock market was closed for a national holiday, but stocks across Europe advanced. The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3352, +0.0031, +0.2327%) also was marginally higher.
Also on the sovereign debt front, the Dubai government reportedly will give $9.5 billion in new funding to support the restructuring of Dubai World and Nakheel.
Best Buy /quotes/comstock/13*!bby/quotes/nls/bby (BBY 41.18, -0.33, -0.79%) shares rose in premarket trade after the electronics retailer's profit and outlook exceeded analyst estimates.
ConAgra Foods /quotes/comstock/13*!cag/quotes/nls/cag (CAG 26.10, -0.18, -0.68%) reported a 19% profit rise, while Oracle Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 25.76, -0.23, -0.88%) reports results after the closing bell.
The Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1% following the dramatic moves on Wednesday for the yen, while stocks in China and Hong Kong declined.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.