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Stock Futures Up Slightly Following Jobless Claims Report

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Thursday after the prior session's slump as central banks in Europe kept their monetary policies accommodative and a report showed a slightly greater than expected number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

Futures for the S&P 500 were tacking on 6 points, or 6.3 points above fair value, to 1,614.

PepsiCo (PEP) is negotiating to buy SodaStream International (SODA) for more than $2 billion, according to Israel's Calcalist financial newspaper. SodaStream shares were jumping more than 6% to $73.52 in premarket trading, while PepsiCo shares were trading sideways.

The report said Pepsi could be willing to pay as much as $95 a share for SodaStream, which makes at-home carbonation systems. SodaStream went public in 2010. The stock closed Wednesday at $69.35.

Ciena (CIEN) was jumping more than 10.5% to $18.08 after the networking equipment maker booked a quarterly profit of 2 cents a share against the loss that analysts on average were expecting, as profit margins improved.

Verifone Systems (PAY) was plunging 16.13% to $18.41 after the maker of credit card swipe machines missed quarterly expectations by 5 cents at 42 cents a share, with its revenue and current-quarter earnings per share guidance of 20 cents also falling short of expectations as sales continue to be hit by lackluster spending conditions.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining 35 points, or 45.41 points above fair value, to 14,994. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 8 points, or 10.21 points above fair value, to 2,946.5.

Major U.S. stock averages slumped Wednesday as a spate of weak economic reports prompted investors to question whether the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures are sufficient to prop the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims numbers ahead of Friday's widely watched government nonfarm payrolls report. The Labor Department reported greater-than-expected initial claims of 346,000 in the week ended June 1, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 357,000. Jobless claims were expected to come in at 345,000.

Meanwhile the four-week moving average on initial claims was 352,500, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average of 348,000. Continuing claims for the week ended May 25 came in at less than expected at 2.952 million, down 52,000 from the preceding week's upwardly-revised level of 3.004 million; economists were expecting continuing claims of 2.975 million.

The European Central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate steady at a record low of 0.5% while it continues to await a recovery in the eurozone economy which looks to have been stabilizing.

The announcement was to be followed by ECB President Mario Draghi's press conference, which began at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists widely believe there will be some small downward tweaks to the economic outlook during the press conference, and expect Draghi to speak again of the possibility of resorting to negative deposit rates as part of a move to stimulate the eurozone economy.

The Bank of England also decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5% as well as maintain its bond buying program at 375 billion pounds ($578 billion) to help bolster the British economy. This would be Mervyn King's final policy meeting before his retirement as the Bank of England governor at the end of June.

The FTSE 100 in the U.K. was down 0.03% while the DAX in Germany was up 0.06%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng settled down 1.05%, while the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed off 0.85%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 4/32, diluting the yield to 2.078%. The dollar was down 0.23% to $82.40 according to the U.S. dollar index.

August gold futures were rising $1.90 to $1,400.40 an ounce, while July light sweet crude oil futures were rising 50 cents to $94.24 a barrel.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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