OPTIMISM ON GREECE, JOBS

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks pointed toward a higher open Thursday, as investors await further data on the job market and developments in Greece ahead of a crucial debt swap.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), SP 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were up about 0.6% ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Data on initial jobless claims and planned job cuts are on tap for Thursday morning. These reports come one day before the government’s closely watched monthly jobs data is released on Friday.

On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said the private sector added 216,000 jobs in February — an improvement from the month prior and roughly in line with expectations.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Greece will be able to finalize an agreement with its private-sector bondholders. These creditors must agree to a restructuring of Greece’s debt this week in order to prevent the country from defaulting.

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U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, a day after the biggest one-day sell-off so far this year, as investors were heartened by a handful of economic reports.

World markets: European stocks rose in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 (UKX) increased 1.1%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany jumped 1.7% and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 1.5%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 1.1%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 1.3% and Japan’s Nikkei (N225) ended up 2.0%.

Economy: Initial jobless claims for the week ended March 3 are expected to total 355,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com — up from 351,000 in the week prior.

Companies: Corporate results are due Thursday from firms including Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and Smithfield Foods (SFD, Fortune 500).

Anheuser-Busch InBev is expected to report quarterly earnings of 92 cents a share on $9.97 billion in revenue, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Smithfield Foods is expected to post earnings of 66 cents a share on $3.49 billion in revenue.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) unveiled the third version of its wildly popular iPad at a presentation in San Francisco on Wednesday. Apple shares closed flat for the day.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the euro and the British pound, but strengthened versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery rose 84 cents to $107.00 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $18.80 to $1,702.70 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.0% from 1.97% late Wednesday.  To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_topstories/~3/VNu4Otec30o/index.htm

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