Stock futures push higher amid earnings, jobs data

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NEW YORK – U.S. stock futures are rising Thursday amid news of dealmaking and a barrage of upbeat earnings reports.
The rise in futures comes after gains in Asia and amid relatively flat markets in Europe.
A wave of merger-and-acquisition activity gave investor confidence a boost early Thursday. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said late Wednesday it is buying Medarex Inc. for about $2.1 billion in cash, the latest in a string of acquisitions by the drugmaker.
The New York-based company said it will pay $16 a share for Medarex, a 90 percent premium over Medarex's closing share price Wednesday of $8.40. Medarex shares nearly doubled in premarket trading, jumping $7.49 to $15.89.
Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc. agreed to buy Zappos.com Inc., a privately held online shoe store, in a deal worth about $850 million.
The day's earnings news was generally positive. Ford Motor Co. surprised the market with a second-quarter profit of $2.3 billion due mainly to a huge gain for debt reduction, while drugmaker Wyeth, cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. and candy maker Hershey Co. all raised their profit forecasts for the year.
Investors were able to look past a government report showing a bigger-than-expected rise in new jobless claims.
The Labor Department said the number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 30,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 — above analysts' estimate of 550,000.
But total unemployment benefit rolls fell to the lowest level since mid-April.
A department analyst said the report was distorted by the timing of auto plant shutdowns.
Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 37, or 0.4 percent, to 8,870. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures added 5.60, or 0.6 percent, to 955, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 6.25, or 0.4 percent, to 1,562.75.

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