Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Central Bank Announcements

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street Thursday as investors eyed announcements from U.S. and European central banks and some employment numbers.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 45 points, or 54.39 points above fair value, at 13,471. The blue-chip index has risen in two of the past three sessions.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 5.7 points, or 5.56 points above fair value, at 1450. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 12.50 points, or 8.26 points above fair value, at 2821.

U.S. stocks finished with mild gains Wednesday as better-than-expected services sector and payrolls data, preceding Friday's official September nonfarm payrolls report, offset a sharp decline in Dow component Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) .

Investors were keeping an eye on central bank developments Thursday with a rate decision from the European Central Bank, a monetary policy announcement from the Bank of England and minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

The markets will be interested to hear more about the status and potential activation time for the ECB's Outright Monetary Transactions bond-buying program. Investors are expecting ECB President Mario Draghi to retain a dovish tone but generally think the central bank likely will leave a cut in the already record-low benchmark interest rate for future meetings if the economic situation gets worse.

The markets also will be analyzing the FOMC minutes, to be released at 2 p.m. EDT, for any hints among Fed members for additional easing going past the end of this year.

The Bank of England has decided to keep interest rates unchanged, which was as expected.

The Labor Department is expected by economists to report at 8:30 a.m. EDT that initial jobless claims for the week ended Sept. 29 rose to 365,000 from 359,000 the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ended Sept. 22 are forecast to have increased to 3.273 million from 3.271 million.

At 10 a.m., the Census Bureau is expected to say that factory orders fell 6% in August after rising 2.8% in July.

The Challenger jobs cuts report for September is scheduled for release at 7:30 a.m.

The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.18% and the DAX in Germany was down 0.25% on Thursday. The Nikkei Average in Japan closed up 0.89% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.09%.

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November crude oil futures were up 65 cents at $88.79 a barrel. December gold futures were rising $11.10 at $1,790.90 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 6/32, boosting the yield to 1.635%. The greenback was down 0.31%, according to the dollar index.

In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) shares took a hit Wednesday after CEO Meg Whitman told analysts that the tech giant would "continue to see a