Futures rose Thursday after a pair of employment reports and also some strong numbers from another U.S automaker.
Dow Jones industrial futures rose 20 points to 13,050. The broader S&P futures tacked on 1.5 points to 1,408.30. Nasdaq futures rose 9.25 points to 2,649.75.
Weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 last week, according the Labor Department, a level consistent with modest hiring.
Also Thursday, Payroll provider ADP says businesses added 158,000 jobs in October.
Markets are waiting for a more complete picture of October hiring on Friday from the Labor Department.
Retailers are posting sales figures for October as well on Thursday, as are automakers.
Target posted a 2.4 percent rise in same-store revenue, but that fell short of the 3.3 percent hike that industry analysts were looking for. Its shares dropped almost 2 percent in premarket trading.
Chrysler had its best October in five years as sales for the month rose 10 percent even though Superstorm Sandy washed out three days of business on the East Coast.
Shares of General Motors surged Wednesday after the company reported third-quarter earnings that were far better than Wall Street expected.
There will be a rush of earnings reports Thursday with so many postponed by the storm.
Exxon Mobil beat Wall Street expectations for profit and revenue, though production is falling. Oil and gas production fell 7.5 percent and lower prices also cut into profit.
Kellogg Co. says its net income edged up in the third quarter, as the breakfast giant benefited from its acquisition of Pringles chips earlier this year.
Pfizer's third-quarter profit fell 14 percent on plunging sales, mainly due to U.S. generic competition to cholesterol fighter Lipitor, long the world's top-selling drug.
Later Thursday, the Conference Board, a private research group, posts consumer confidence numbers and economist expect a better picture on that front for the second month in a row.
They'll be watching all of the data on employment and consumers closely today, both from retailers and the government, because consumer spending drives about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
The government will also be releasing numbers on construction spending and manufacturing.