Futures are up, suggesting the broader stock market could eke out gains for the third quarter despite recent whipsawed trading. Here’s what we’re watching before Thursday’s regular trading session gets going.

Ready for liftoff:

Virgin Galactic


SPCE -3.55%

shares jumped 9.2% premarket after the top U.S. aviation safety regulator cleared the space tourism company to operate flights again. The regulator also said the company failed to communicate a mistake that occurred during a high-profile mission.

Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying Richard Branson and crew, began its ascent to the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., July 11, 2021.

Photo:

virgin galactic/Reuters

Merck


MRK 2.41%

confirmed that it would acquire

Acceleron Pharma


XLRN -4.06%

for $180 a share, a deal that had been earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal. Acceleron shares gained 1.9% premarket, and Merck ticked up 0.4%.

Results are due before the open from

Bed Bath & Beyond,


BBBY -2.93%

Paychex


PAYX 1.05%

and

McCormick.


MKC 0.52%

Shares of oil-and-gas company

Camber Energy


CEI 6.21%

are up 17% premarket from their closing at $3.42 a share on Wednesday. The stock is trending on Twitch, according to Topstonks.com.

Another penny stock, social media and entertainment company for children

Grom Social Enterprises,


GROM 95.43%

soared 19% premarket, after having gained 95% in the previous session. The reasons are unclear, as they company didn’t appear to issue any regulatory filings or news releases.

Investors in

Altria Group


MO 0.97%

and

Philip Morris International


PM 1.09%

were unmoved after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in a patent case brought by rival R.J. Reynolds Tobacco that the companies must halt imports and sales of their IQOS heated tobacco device. Shares of both companies edged up 0.2% premarket.

Landec


LNDC 0.78%

shares dropped 13% off hours after the maker of wellness products reported a quarterly loss.

Herman Miller


MLHR 1.85%

shares climbed 2.2% off hours. The furniture company, which is changing its name to MillerKnoll, said it expects revenue this quarter to exceed $1 billion, helped by a reopening of offices.

Jefferies Financial Group


JEF 0.53%

is due to report earnings after the close.

Chart of the Day

The recent Federal Reserve meeting marked a turning point, as widely expected, with the 10-year Treasury yield climbing above 1.5% in subsequent sessions.

Write to James Willhite at james.willhite@wsj.com

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