U.S. stock futures turned higher Thursday morning on mostly upbeat jobs reports, as Wall Street continues to recover from the two-day suspension of trading due to Superstorm Sandy.
Ahead of the opening bell, investors had a bevy of corporate and economic news to parse through. Those morning reports included planned job cuts, private sector jobs and initial unemployment claims, in a prelude to the government's monthly jobs report on Friday.
First, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported the number of planned job cuts surged to a five-month high of 47,724 in October. That was a 41% increase over the prior month.
But two other reports were positive. Payroll processor ADP reported U.S. private-sector employers added 158,000 jobs in October. That topped the 143,000 prediction from analysts polled by Briefing.com. Weekly initial jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 363.000 last week. That came in lower than the 375,000 filings expected.
The other reports on tap for Thursday span a wide variety of economic sectors: manufacturing, consumer confidence, construction spending and auto sales.
The corporate world is also busy Thursday. Exxon Mobil reported better-than-expected earnings in the morning, while AIG Starbucks, and LinkedIn are among the firms due to report after the closing bell.
U.S. stocks ended a weak month on a mixed note Wednesday, the first day of trading after the two-day Sandy-related closure.
Companies: Netflix shares retreated 2.4% in premarket trade, after a massive 14% runup Wednesday. The gains came after famed corporate raider Carl Icahn disclosed he bought a 10% stake in Netflix, and strongly hinted he'd like a larger company to buy the streaming video and DVD service.
Japan-based Panasonic released an earnings report Thursday that was full of bad news. The electronics company posted a loss, dramatically lowered its forecast for the year, and announced it will suspend its dividend. Business conditions are expected to become "much more severe."
Also in Japan, Sony reported a narrower loss for its fiscal second quarter and reaffirmed its full-year forecast for a swing to profit. Its U.S.-traded stock was up 1.8% premarket.