5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

  • Wall Street set to rebound as earnings, economic data take center stage
  • Dow stocks Caterpillar, Merck jump on earnings; Apple, Amazon out later
  • Ford surges after smashing earnings estimates, reinstating dividend
  • Biden to attend House Democrats meeting, signaling a deal on spending bill
  • Big Oil executives to testify at House climate change hearing

1. Wall Street set to rebound as earnings, economic data take center stage

U.S. stock futures were higher Thursday as investors picked through strong before-the-bell earnings from two Dow stocks and mixed economic data.

  • The government said Thursday its first look at third-quarter gross domestic product only showed a 2% advance. That's slower than estimates and the second quarter's Covid recovery boom of 6.7%.
  • First-time filings for unemployment benefits hit another Covid-era low, totaling a better-than-expected 281,000 for the week ended Oct. 23.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 on Wednesday fell from record highs, snapping a three-session and a two-session winning streak, respectively. The Nasdaq closed basically flat, remaining less than 1% away from its latest record high on Sept. 7.

2. Dow stocks Caterpillar, Merck jump on earnings; Apple, Amazon out later

Dow stock Caterpillar was rising 1.5% in premarket trading after the heavy equipment maker on Thursday reported better-than-expected adjusted third-quarter earnings of $2.66 per share. Revenue of $12.4 billion in Q3 was slightly below expectations. Another Dow stock, Merck, was up nearly 2% after the drugmaker said Thursday it earned an adjusted $1.75 per share in the third quarter. Revenue of $13.1 billion also beat estimates. Merck raised its full-year outlook.

Apple and Amazon lead the long list of companies schedule to report quarterly earnings after Thursday's closing bell on Wall Street. In July, Dow component Apple said growth in its upcoming September quarter would not be as strong as its June quarter. Amazon, after reporting in July its first quarterly revenue miss in three years, gave weak third-quarter guidance. Investors will see how those outlook warnings play out. Shares of Apple and Amazon were modestly higher in premarket trading.

3. Ford surges after smashing earnings estimates, reinstating dividend

Ford shares were soaring more than 8% in Thursday's premarket, the morning after the automaker reported adjusted third-quarter earnings of 51 cents per share, which nearly doubled estimates. Revenue of $33.21 billion in Q3 also beat expectations. Ford increased annual guidance for the second time this year. The company also said it would reinstate its regular dividend starting in the fourth quarter, more than a year and a half after suspending the payments during the early days of Covid.

4. Biden to attend House Democrats meeting, signaling a deal on spending bill

President Joe Biden has made last-minute plans to attend a House Democratic caucus meeting on Thursday morning, CNBC has confirmed. He's expected to personally appeal to the party's progressives to vote for the stalled bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has already passed the Senate. Biden's attendance was seen on Capitol Hill as a very good sign that party leaders had finalized a deal on the president's signature social spending legislation. Biden is scheduled to depart later Thursday for a week of meetings in Europe, including a Friday sit-down with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

5. Big Oil executives to testify at House climate change hearing

Top executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP America and Shell are set to testify at a House hearing Thursday as congressional Democrats investigate what they describe as a decadeslong, industrywide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming. Separately, Shell on Thursday missed estimates for third-quarter profit, a day after activist investor Dan Loeb called for the company to break up. Loeb's Third Point had built a stake of roughly $750 million in Shell, according to various media reports that couldn't be independently verified by CNBC.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC's coronavirus coverage.

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