Futures up after release of data on jobs, economy

Associated Press
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In this Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 photo, trader Gregory Rowe, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock futures are modestly higher, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, while global exchanges are falling, with Western nations laying the groundwork for potential military strikes in Syria. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose on an improving employment landscape and new figures released Thursday that show that U.S. economic growth has been stronger than was once thought.

Uncertainty that has rattled markets for days also eased as allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad moved to block a rapid Western military strike in response to evidence of a chemical weapons attack there.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 52 points to 14,858. S&P futures added 5.9 points to 1,638.10. Nasdaq futures rose 15.5 points to 3,083.75.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, a much faster acceleration than economists had expected.

But most had already begun to second guess earlier estimates after seeing economic data for June that revealed strong exports and declining imports, which cut the national deficit as well.

The Commerce Department on Thursday revised higher its 1.7 percent second-quarter growth rate that it had reported last month.

And the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits continues to decline.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 331,000.

Economists pay closer to the four-week average because it's less volatile. That number nudged up 750 to 331,250, but it hit a 5½-year low the previous week.

Shares of Verizon shot up Thursday morning after Britain's Vodafone PLC, one of the world's largest cellphone companies, acknowledged it was in talks to sell to Verizon, the largest U.S. cellphone carrier, its part of a joint venture that the two companies operate in the U.S.