NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures rose Thursday on strong retail sales numbers, a better-than-expected jobs report and new evidence that China's economy may be stabilizing.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq took off early after the electric carmaker Tesla said late Thursday that it had paid off a loan from the Department of Energy nine years early and blew away Wall Street expectations for its most recent quarter. A big quarter from Groupon helped as well.
Dow Jones industrial futures rose 62 points to 15,504. S&P futures tacked on 6.4 points to 1,694.60 and Nasdaq futures added 13.75 points to 3,129.75.
The Labor Department on Thursday said the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits over the past month has fallen to its lowest level in almost six years, signaling fewer layoffs.
Weekly applications rose by 5,000, but the four-week average, which is less volatile, dropped 6,250 to 335,500. That's the lowest level since November 2007, the month before the recession began.
In another indicator of the growing distance from the nation's economic downturn, the mortgage giant Fannie Mae logged a profit of $10.1 billion in the second quarter. It also said Thursday that it would pay a dividend of $10.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month and requested no additional federal aid.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received government loans of about $187 billion after the housing collapse.
And some big retailers are putting up positive monthly sales numbers.
Comparable-store sales at McDonald's rose 0.7 percent in July.
American Apparel reported same-store sales growth of 6 percent, and the owner of Victoria's Secret as well as Bath and Body Works reported 3 percent sales growth at stores open at least a year
China's trade rebounded in July, potentially signaling the end of a six-month slowdown for the world's second-largest economy.
China's exports rose 5.1 percent from a year earlier in July while imports leaped 10.9 percent, customs data showed Thursday.
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