) -- Stock futures were driven higher Thursday by reassuring U.S. economic numbers and the European Central Bank's commitment to economic stimulus.

The European Central Bank, as expected, cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to a record low 0.5%, after holding the rate at 0.75% since July 2012.

"Our monetary policy stance will remain accommodative for as long as is needed," Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said at a press briefing.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Grey & Christmas reported early Thursday that job cuts plunged to a four-month low of 38,121 in April as the economic slowdown that began late in the third quarter has yet to result in increased downsizing.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims fell 18,000 to 324,000 in the week ended April 27. The four-week moving average on initial claims also fell, down 16,000 from the previous week. On average, economists expected weekly claims to rise to 345,000 last week.

The Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit shrank to $38.8 billion in March from $43.6 billion in February, compared with expectations of a reduction to $42 billion.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were rising 9.5 points, or 9.15 points above fair value, to 1,586.75. Stocks closed near session lows on Wednesday after the

Federal Reserve

policymakers said U.S. unemployment remains "elevated" and that "fiscal policy is restraining economic growth," adding that they are

prepared to increase or reduce asset purchases as needed.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

was popping 3.68% to $31.32 in premarket trading after the automaker

beat earnings estimates

despite weaker results in North America, Asia and South America.


(FB) - Get Report

was rising 1.31% to $27.79 after the social networking giant said Wednesday that it earned 12 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $1.46 billion, an increase of 38% year over year, led by

strength in mobile

advertising, which accounted for 30% of total advertising revenue.

Delcath Systems


was surging 10.96% to 84 cents as the company brings its

Melblez liver-tumor therapy

in front of the FDA's outside experts Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday morning, the FDA was convening an independent advisory panel to dissect data on tivozanib,

Aveo Oncology's

(AVEO) - Get Report

experimental kidney cancer drug

, and vote on whether or not to recommend the drug's approval.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were gaining 85 points, or 84.05 points above fair value, to 14,721.. Futures for the


were advancing 19.75 points, or 17.05 points above fair value, to 2,883.25.

In other U.S. economic releases, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that nonfarm business labor productivity rose 0.7% in the first quarter vs. expectations of a 1.2% increase after falling by a upwardly-revised 1.7% in the fourth quarter. The agency said that unit labor costs rose 0.5% compared with expectations of a 0.7% rise after increasing by a downwardly-revised 4.4%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed lower by 0.76% on Thursday.

European and Asian markets that were closed for May public holidays Wednesday re-opened mixed. The DAX in Germany was up 0.25%. The FTSE 100 in the U.K. was down 0.23%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng settled down 0.3%.

June gold futures were rising $13.30 to $1,459.50 an ounce as oil contracts for June delivery rose 50 cents to $91.53 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 3/32, raising the yield to 1.643%. The dollar was up 0.24% to $81.68 according to the

U.S. dollar index.

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Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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Andrea Tse