April 24 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Tickers in this article: AAPL AMZN FB GE GM MSFT ZNGA

Updated from 6:38 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, April 24:

1. 
-- U.S. stock futures were rising and European shares gained as two U.S. technology giants posted strong earnings.

Stocks in Tokyo slipped after talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Obama failed to finalize a trade agreement. The Nikkei 225 fell 1%.

2. -- The  economic calendar  in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and durable-goods orders for March at 8:30 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks  on Wednesday slipped amid tepid Chinese economic  data and a 14.5% month-over-month drop in U.S. new-home sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average  lost 0.08% to close at 16,501.65, while the  S&P 500  closed off 0.22% to 1,875.39. The  Nasdaq declined 0.83% to 4,126.97.

4. -- Apple , the iPhone and iPad maker, reported fiscal second-quarter earnings  that topped Wall Street estimates, and it announced a 7-for-1 stock split.

Apple reported earnings of $11.62 a share on revenue of $45.6 billion. The company shipped 43.7 million iPhones, 16.4 million iPads, and 4.1 million Macs during the quarter.

Gross margin, a highly watched level for Apple, came in at 39.3%. 

For the fiscal third quarter, Apple said it expects revenue of between $36 billion and $38 billion, with gross margins between 37% and 38%. 

Apple also announced that it was raising its capital allocation  program to more than $130 billion by the end of calendar year 2015. As part of the program, Apple's board increased its share repurchase authorization to $90 billion from $60 billion, and boosted its quarterly dividend by 8% to $3.29 a share.

The stock was up 8.7% in premarket trading to $570.15.

5. -- Social media giant  Facebook  posted first-quarter earnings  and revenue that topped expectations as advertising revenue grew more than expected.

"Facebook's business is strong and growing, and this quarter was a great start to 2014," said founder and  CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the earnings statement. "We've made some long-term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We're in great position to continue making progress towards our mission."

Revenue for the first quarter was $2.5 billion, an increase of 72% from the first quarter of 2013. First-quarter revenue of $2.36 billion was expected by analysts.

Non-GAAP earnings in the quarter were 34 cents a share; analysts expected 24 cents.

Facebook shares rose 4.9% in premarket trading to $64.36.

6. -- Shares in French train and equipment manufacturer Alstom spiked on reports that General Electric is considering making a bid for the company.

Alstom said in a statement Thursday that it has not been "informed of any potential public tender offer for shares of the company."