Global markets were buzzing Thursday morning as Wall Street digested positive employment data, and also amid a rally in European and Asian markets.
The number of first-time unemployment claims fell by 26,000 last week to 323,000. Consensus calls were for 338,000 new claims. The monthly nonfarms payrolls report, a major indicator of economic health, is due Friday. Meanwhile, nonfarm productivity rose by 1.8% in the fourth quarter, far below the 3.2% previous estimate and short of economists' call for a 2.4% gain. Look for factory orders at 10 a.m. ET.
Overseas, European exchanges remained positive after the European Central Bank left rates unchanged at 0.25%. Asian markets closed higher overnight.
Among companies, Staples (SPLS) said in its Thursday earnings report that it will shutter up to 225 stores by the end of 2015, and slash costs by $500 million, as it braces for a decline in quarterly sales. Despite nearly tripling its quarterly profit, the office-supply giant's results missed analyst expectations as sales slumped. Shares plummeted nearly 10% in premarket trading, approaching a 52-week low.
Elsewhere, big-box retailer Costco (COST) missed fiscal second-quarter net-income estimates, pressuring shares by 2% in early trading. Action Alerts PLUS holding Ciena (CIEN) bested profit estimates by $0.07 per share on in-line revenue, and the telecom-equipment maker's shares were slightly higher. Mining-equipment manufacturer Joy Global (JOY) fell far short of net-income forecasts but offered upbeat full-year guidance.
On the Federal Reserve calendar, New York Fed President William Dudley will speak in New York at 8:30 a.m., and Philadelphia Fed chief Charles Plosser will speak in London at 1 p.m.