By Joe Wallace 

Here's what we're watching ahead of the opening bell Thursday.

-- Futures tied to the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% apiece, suggesting both indexes may eke out further gains after closing at record highs Wednesday. Nasdaq-100 futures added 0.4%.

The dollar and oil prices are down. Read our full market wrap here.

What's Coming Up

-- Earnings are due before the bell from Baker Hughes, insurance firm Travelers and railroad operator Union Pacific. Intel and IBM will report after markets close.

-- Weekly data on claims for jobless benefits will show whether the labor market is starting to stabilize or deteriorating further. Economists reckon around 925,000 workers filed for benefits, holding steady after claims jumped at the start of the year. The figures are due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Market Movers to Watch

-- Shares of Paccar jumped 6.3% ahead of the bell after the truck maker said it would work with autonomous vehicle startup Aurora Innovation to develop self-driving heavy-duty trucks. It is the latest in a string of deals aimed at bringing automation to the business that moves most of the freight in the U.S.

-- Kinder Morgan shares gained 3.1% in premarket trading after the Houston-based energy-infrastructure firm said it expects a significant increase in profits in 2021, following a year with large impairments associated with its natural-gas pipelines.

-- United Airlines shares were off around 2%. The airline late Wednesday reported a net loss of $1.9 billion for the fourth quarter and said it expects the pandemic will continue to weigh on travel demand this year.

-- Shares of Southern Co. slipped 1.6% after Morgan Stanley analysts cut their price target for the Atlanta-based utility by a dollar to $56.

Market Fact

So far in January, special-purpose acquisition companies have raised nearly $15 billion, eclipsing a then-record total from all of 2019, Dealogic figures through Tuesday show. They accounted for nearly half of all money raised in initial public offerings last year at $82 billion. The boom was part of a red-hot stretch in the broader IPO market.

Chart of the Day

We keep being reminded that the stock market isn't the economy. But then, is it possible for the market to go into a long bear run even if the economy booms? Yes, although there is little record of it ever happening, writes Heard on the Street columnist Justin Lahart.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 21, 2021 07:12 ET (12:12 GMT)

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