U.S. stocks were headed for another day of modest gains early Thursday, as investors mulled over the latest jobless claims data.
Weekly filings for first-time unemployment benefits were roughly in line with expectations, but stayed below 400,000 and continuing claims remained low as well.
Though concerns about global events are far from over, and more downbeat news came from Europe Thursday morning, U.S. futures held their gains.
Portugal's Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, resigned early Wednesday after parliament rejected his administration's latest proposal for austerity measures, reports said. The plan is aimed at avoiding a bailout.
Meanwhile, ratings agency Moody's downgraded its debt ratings of 30 Spanish banks. Moody's added that the outlook remained weak, and the banks "show little sign of strengthening materially in the foreseeable future."
Economy: Before the start of trade, the Commerce Department reported durable goods orders fell 0.9% in February, compared with a 3.6% rise posted in January. Economists were expecting a 1.1% rise in February.
Companies: Shares of Red Hat (RHT), the largest seller of Linux software, surged 13% in premarket trade. The company reported a 43% increase in its fourth-quarter profit late Wednesday.
Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) reported profit and sales that beat forecasts. Shares rose 3.9% premarket.
Walgreen Co. (WAG) said early Thursday it will buy online retailer Drugstore.com (DSCM) for $409 million.
After the bell, software giant Oracle (ORCL) and smartphone maker Research in Motion (RIMM) will report. Analysts expect RIM to have earned $1.76 a share while Oracle is expected to post a 50-cents-a-share profit.
Oil for May delivery gained 74 cents, or 0.7%, to $106.49 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.50, or 0.2%, to $1,440.50 an ounce. Gold closed at a record high in the previous session, settling at $1,438 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 3.36% from 3.26% late Wednesday.
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