U.S. stock index futures rose Thursday, building on the sharp gains from the previous session, as traders bet the regional banking crisis has stabilized. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 198 points, or 0.6% higher. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures were also up 0.6% and 0.72%, respectively. Regional banks ticked higher in the premarket, with the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) advancing nearly 1%. The ETF has gained 7% from its March 23 crisis low of $42.24, as investors posit that the central bank has reined in any further banking contagion. Shares of Western Alliance and PacWest gained 3% and 2%. Investors continue to show signs of optimism that perhaps the worst is behind them. The CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s preferred measure of how turbulent the S&P 500 will be over the next 30 days, has pulled back to 19 after reaching 30 in the middle of March. The moves over the course of the week stem from Wall Street’s attempts to weigh varying factors, said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments. Those factors, he said, include the latest batch of corporate earnings, the future path of interest rates and potential for a recession and, as of recent weeks, the state of the banks. “There’s always been the natural seesaw, but it’s sort of never been like this,” he said. “There’s just so many things that are on investors’ minds.” The three major indexes ended Wednesday higher, with the Nasdaq Composite leading the way with a roughly 1.8% jump. The S&P 500 and Dow followed at 1.4% and 1% higher, respectively. Weekly jobless claims increased by 7,000 to 198,000, adding to hopes that the Fed could slow down its tightening campaign because the labor market is cooling. Elsewhere, Boston Federal Reserve President Susan Collins, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari are all slated to speak in the afternoon. Asia-Pacific markets were trading mixed on Thursday, with Australia’s benchmark index hitting a two week high as concerns on the recent banking turmoil in the U.S. and Europe ease. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 1.02% higher at 7,122.3, led by miners and bank stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.36% to close at 27,782.93, while the Topix saw a larger loss of 0.61% to end at 1,983.32. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.38% to finish at 2,453.16, while the Kosdaq index gained 0.77% to end at 850.48. The Hang Seng index rose 0.37%, while the Hang Seng Tech index also climbed 0.16%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.65% to end at 3,261.25, with the Shenzhen Component also closed 0.62% higher to finish the day at 11,651.83. Oil prices rose on Thursday as a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and a halt in exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan region offset a smaller-than-expected cut to Russian supplies. Brent crude futures rose 58 cents, or 0.7%, to $78.86 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude rose 71 cents, or 1%, to $73.69 a barrel. U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly in the week to March 24 to a two-year low, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Gold prices reversed course to trade higher on Thursday, as a slightly softer dollar helped counter risk appetite fueled by easing concerns about the global banking system. Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,967.53 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,985. The dollar index eased 0.1%, making bullion more affordable for buyers holding other currencies.