-U.K. voting: Polls in the U.K.’s referendum on membership of the European Union opened at 2 a.m. ET and will close at 5 p.m. ET. Counting of the votes will begin soon after, with the first results expected to start to come in after 7 pm ET. While full view of the likely result will take several hours, Bloomberg will be running a live blog throughout the night to keep you posted on all the developments.
-Markets rally: The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.8 percent overnight, led by gains in Japanese stocks, with the Topix index climbing adding 1.1 percent. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was rising for the fifth day, up 1.6 percent at 5:56 a.m. ET, with all 19 industry groups in the index higher. S&P 500 futures were 1 percent higher.
-PMI data: A Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing and services in the euro area fell to 52.8 from 53.1 in May, according to Markit Economics. The number, which missed economist estimates, was hit by French manufacturing and services PMI, both of which came in below 50. German composite PMI was at 54.1, in line with estimates, indicating that Europe’s largest economy is showing little sign of weakness.
-Where next for oil?: West Texas Intermediate was trading at $49.90 a barrel at 6:20 a.m. ET after a week that has seen large fluctuations in the price of the commodity. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has said that the oil glut is over which would mean price rises over the longer term, while Norway’s central bank this morning back-tracked on further easing as the price slump that had hit the oil-exporting economy wanes. European banks are not so bullish on the prospects for oil, however, as they have started scaling back their exposure to the industry.
-Jobless Claims in U.S. Declined More Than Forecast Last Week: Fewer Americans than forecast filed for unemployment benefits last week, adding to evidence that the labor market is healthy and stable. Jobless claims dropped by 18,000 to 259,000 in the period ended June 18, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. It was the biggest decrease since the first week of February. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 270,000.
-Global market overview: Stock markets are looking relatively upbeat right now. U.S. stock futures are moving higher and most major European markets are in positive territory in early trading. The FTSE 100 is up about 0.8%. Asian markets ended the day with mixed results. The Nikkei in Japan was a standout performer with a 1.1% gain. In the currency market, the pound is slipping against the U.S. dollar after hitting $1.48. Gold and oil prices are holding steady. Gold is worth about $1,270 per ounce while oil is around $49.50 a barrel.
-Alibaba in the spotlight: Wall Street may pay extra close attention to Alibaba (BABA, Tech30) Thursday after founder Jack Ma published an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal saying Alibaba has «zero tolerance for those who rip off other people’s intellectual property.» He said his company is committed to fighting counterfeits. Alibaba has been accused of failing to crack down hard enough on fake goods sold over its hugely popular online shopping platforms.
-Earnings and economics: The two key companies reporting earnings Thursday include BlackBerry (BBRY, Tech30) and Accenture (ACN). Both will post their results ahead of the open. The Census Bureau will post U.S. new home sales data for the month of May at 10 a.m. The last couple of new home reports have shown surprising strength, with sales figures outpacing expectations. Prices have also been strong, with the April report showing the average price of a new home rose by almost 10% compared to last year. In Europe, the latest Markit PMI report on services and manufacturing in the eurozone shows business activity is growing at its slowest rate in over a year. The June report blamed «political and economic uncertainty [for] dampening business activity.»
-Potential market mover — Tesla: Shares in Tesla (TSLA) are continuing to slip premarket after falling by 10.5% Wednesday. Investors are unimpressed by the automaker’s bid to takeover SolarCity (SCTY).
-Wednesday market recap: Wall Street trading was rather muted on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 0.3%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each declined 0.2%.