Stock market set to add to records with ECB in focus – MarketWatch

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U.S. stocks looked set to retain a tentative grip on records early Thursday, with investors focusing on earnings and upbeat economic data ahead of the opening bell.

Results from companies like American Airlines Group Inc. and a European Central Bank news conference, after the central bank left key rates unchanged, are highlights ahead of the market open.

Check out: A live blog of the ECB’s news conference

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMU7, -0.08%  was trading flat at 21,601, while S&P 500 index futures ESU7, +0.02%  added 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,473. Nasdaq-100 index NQ, -0.85%  futures edged up 12 points, or 0.2%, to 5,928.

Ahead of the market open, weekly jobless claims plunged, highlighting a labor market that has conveyed consistent signs of health. Meanwhile, a reading of manufacturing from Philadelphia, known as the Philly Fed, manufacturing cooled to a reading of 19.5 from 27.6 in June.

Need to Know: Here’s where a storm’s a-comin’ for investors, this global forecast says

All three major indexes snared new closing records on Wednesday, buoyed by earnings optimism after better-than-expected Morgan Stanley MS, +0.45%  results. The Dow DJIA, -0.02%  ended up 0.3% at 21,640.75, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.11%  gained 0.5% to 2,473.83, and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.12%  rose 0.6% to 6,385.04, for its 40th record close this year.

At the same time, the S&P 500’s Information Technology sector GSPT, -0.21%  closed 0.56% higher at 992.29. That broke a record set on March 27, 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble, when it closed at 988.49.

Read: BAML’s Hartnett sees global snub for U.S. stocks as more fuel for upside

Those U.S. stock records inspired gains across the globe on Thursday, as Asian and European equities pushed higher on a day of key central bank meetings. Earlier, the Bank of Japan lifted hopes for more monetary stimulus as it pushed back its inflation target.

Read: Why Mario Draghi can’t back down from ECB taper hints

“U.S. investors are also more focused on earnings season at the moment and what the Fed is doing,” said Craig Erlam, Oanda’s senior market analyst, in emailed comments.

Early readings on U.S. earnings have been largely upbeat, though Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, +0.44%  disappointed this week, and investors are looking to results to keep driving gains.

In economic news, the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits sank in mid-July and hovered near a 44-year low, reflecting the healthiest jobs market in more than a decade.

Separately, the Philadelphia Fed reported that manufacturers reported solid but slowing growth in July.

Stocks in focus: Philip Morris International Inc. PM, -3.04%  shares fell 0.6% in premarket trading after the cigarette maker lowered guidance and revenues and delivered an earnings miss.

Shares of Travelers Inc. TRV, -1.71% fell more than 1% ahead of the open, after the insurer posted a lower profit amid higher catastrophe and weather-related losses.

American Airlines Group Inc. AAL, -0.32%  earnings are still to come ahead of the open.

Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -0.53% Visa Inc. V, -0.13% eBay Inc. EBAY, +0.49%  and Capitol One Financial Corp. COF, -0.28%  are among those companies reporting after the close.

Check out: Preview of Microsoft earnings

Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, -4.21%  shares fell 2.2% in premarket trading, after the chip maker’s quarterly earnings met forecasts late Wednesday, but its forecast made no mention of sales related to Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.05% products.

Shares of T-Mobile US Inc. TMUS, +0.44% TMUS, +0.44% rose 3% in premarket after strong second-quarter earnings from the wireless carrier late Wednesday.

Read: Qualcomm’s issues go beyond Apple fight

Other markets: Stocks rose in Asia ADOW, +0.22%  after the Bank of Japan pushed back on its inflation target, which fueled some hopes for more monetary stimulus. The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, -0.02%  rose 0.1%, little changed after the ECB meeting.

The ICE Dollar Index DXY, -0.15%  traded higher, with gains against the euro EURUSD, +0.4342% which slipped below $1.15 after the ECB announcement and the Japanese yen USDJPY, +0.09%  

Oil prices CLU7, +0.51% rose, while gold prices GCQ7, -0.14%  slipped $5.30 to $1,236.80 an ounce.

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