U.S. stock futures rose Thursday after the latest jobs report provided more evidence of an economy that has grown increasingly stable.
Dow Jones industrial futures rose 44 points to 13,369. The broader S&P futures added 7.6 points to 1,463.40. Nasdaq futures rose 18.5 points to 2,740.50.
While the Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000 last week, the most in five weeks, the overall trend suggests employers are hiring.
The department said last week that employers added 155,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate is falling, albeit slowly. It fell 0.7 percentage points in 2012.
Also on Thursday, Ford said it would double its quarterly dividend payout to 10 cents. The company reinstated its dividend nine months ago after financial difficulties five years ago forced it to suspend quarterly payments.
Shares of some retailers fell before the opening bell with surprisingly bad sales numbers during the crucial holiday period.
Shares of the teen retailer Aeropostale tumbled more than 10 percent, close to a 52-week low, after reporting that total revenue for the nine-week period ended Dec. 29 fell 6 percent to $645 million.
Aeropostale cut its outlook for the final quarter of its fiscal year.
Tiffany & Co., the luxury retailer that had largely escaped the rough patch others had experienced during the economic downturn, saw shares slide almost 8 percent in premarket trading on weak holiday sales. The company said that it is being conservative on its 2013 sales growth expectations due to uncertain economic conditions.