Stock index futures are mostly higher Thursday morning as Wall Street appears optimistic that the Federal Reserve will continue to add liquidity amid weak economic growth.
Janet Yellen, the nominee to replace outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke, issued a statement Wednesday ahead of her confirmation hearing before Congress today that could be interpreted as dovish on continuing the central bank's $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program.
Meanwhile, the dry spell for economic data ended today with three major releases at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Initial unemployment claims for the week ended Nov. 8 fell to 339,000 from an adjusted 341,000 the week before, but economists had called for a decrease to 330,000.
September's trade deficit widened to $41.8 billion in September. Analysts had expected the imbalance to climb slightly to $39 billion from $38.7 billion in August.
And productivity rose less than expected, at an annual rate of 1.9% in the third quarter vs. forecasts for a 2.2% boost.
Shares of Action Alerts PLUS holding Cisco Systems (CSCO) are being punished, down more than 10% this morning after the network-equipment maker issued weaker-than-expected results and guidance late Wednesday. The disappointing results helped to weigh down Nasdaq futures on an otherwise upbeat market morning.
Before the bell, Wal-Mart (WMT) reported a slight beat on the bottom line, but same-store sales declined. Kohl's (KSS) shares sank sharply after a miss on earnings and and Viacom (VIA.B) topped estimates thanks to gains in ad sales.
In company news, GM (GM) CEO Dan Akerson could be stepping down next year, according to a report from Reuters. Mobile messaging app Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer from charitable-trust holding Facebook (FB), which is looking for ways to keep teens engaged with the social networking site.