Futures rise amid trio of economic reports

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose Thursday as the U.S. government reaffirmed that economic growth improved during the second quarter.

And the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits bucked the projections of economists, and actually fell last week to a six-year low.

U.S. markets have sold off for five consecutive days, rattled by the prospect of a government shutdown. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress this week that the Treasury’s ability to borrow funds will be exhausted on Oct. 17.

Dow Jones industrial futures are up 30 points to 15,242. S&P futures have gained 3.9 points to 1,689.70. Nasdaq futures are up 15.5 points to 3,215.50.

The gains were limited, however, with many economists seeing headwinds for the U.S. economy.

J.C. Penney reversed the direction of its shares, which had been plunging for a third consecutive day, when it issued a statement saying that its turnaround campaign is working.

The struggling retailer said that it still expects revenue at stores open at least a year to be up as it exits the third quarter and it expects more of the same in fourth quarter.

There have been growing concerns about how fast the company has burned through cash.

The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index for August will be released at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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