U.S. stocks were set for a positive open Thursday as investors took in earnings from Morgan Stanley, Verizon and Nokia while jobless claims ticked back up.
Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were up between 0.4% and 0.5%. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Initial jobless claims last week came in higher than expected, at 386,000. That was an increase of 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure.
Morgan Stanley, the last of the big banks to report quarterly results, missed earnings and revenue forecasts, sending shares down more than 3%.
Tech firms also reported mixed results. Nokia's stock tumbled after the company reported a wider loss, and Verizon reported earnings in line with forecasts. Google and Microsoft will release results after the closing bell.
Worries about a slowing U.S. economy continues to unnerve investors.
"There's little to no strong evidence that quantitative easing is actually making its way into the real economy," said Gerry Davies, a ForexLive currency analyst in London. "In the UK, we've done quantitave easing, but we can't quantify.
Earlier this week, Fed chair Ben Bernanke gave few hints about another round of stimulus, while cautioning that the outlook for the economy remains gloomy.
In Europe, Spain sold €2.98 billion worth of two-, five- and seven-year notes but demand was weak, sending the yield on Spain's benchmark 10-year bond back above 7%.
U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday as investors focused on better-than-expected corporate results, and testimony from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
World markets: European stocks were positive in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 edged up 0.2%, the DAX in Germany added 1% and France's CAC 40 gained 0.9%, .
Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 1.7% and Japan's Nikkei gained 0.8%.
Economy: At 10 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors will release data on existing home sales for June, which are expected to come in at an annual rate of 4.65 million.
Also at 10 a.m., the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will release its Business Outlook index, and the Conference Board will release its Leading Economic Indicators index.
Companies: Shares of Walgreen surged 12% after the company finally reached a multi-year pharmacy network agreement with Express Scripts. The prescription company's shares rose 2%.
Southwest Airlines reported revenue of $4.6 billion and earnings of 30 cents a share, beating forecasts.
IBM shares rose more than 2% in premarket trading, a day after the company reported quarterly quarterly earnings that beat analyst expectations and issued upbeat guidance.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained ground against the euro, but fell versus the British pound and Japanese yen.
Oil for August delivery rose 77 cents to $90.64 a barrel.
Gold futures for August delivery rose $10 to $1,580.80 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.51% from 1.48% late Wednesday.