NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were signaling a small rebound on Thursday, recapturing some of the upward momentum enjoyed earlier in the week. Jobless claims came in lower than expected, while the U.S. trade deficit soared.
S&P 500 futures added 0.65%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 0.54%, and Nasdaq futures gained 0.47%.
Initial jobless claims increased 11,000 to 278,000 in the week ended Jan. 31. Economists had expected 290,000 new claims for unemployment benefits.
The trade deficit widened to $46.6 billion in December, further in the red than an expected $38 billion deficit.
Optimism is high the U.S. can deliver another solid jobs report on Friday morning. Official U.S. nonfarm payrolls data is expected to show an increase of 230,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate is forecast to remain unchanged at 5.6%.
News the European Central Bank had lifted a waiver on using Greece's debt as collateral unsettled European markets Thursday. The move threw a curveball at an already tenuous situation. European markets have been jittery since anti-austerity party Syriza was elected into government last week, sparking fears the new Greek government could compromise conditions of its 2010 bailout package.
France's CAC was down 0.28%, Germany's DAX fell 0.21%, and London's FTSE 100 dropped 0.23%. The Athens Stock Exchange tanked 4.8%.
In good news for the eurozone, German industrial orders in December came in at their highest level since April 2008. The measure surged 4.2%, far better than a 2.4% contraction a month earlier.
Crude oil prices were seeing a slight rebound after brutal losses on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate climbed 2% to $49.40 a barrel. Prices had been pressured a day earlier after the Energy Information Administration reported an increase of 6.3 million barrels of crude to U.S. inventories in the past week, more than double estimates.
Pfizer (PFE) said it was buying Hospira (HSP) for $15.23 billion, primarily for Hospira's global foothold in the injectable drug business. The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year. Pfizer shares were up 2% and Hospira shares rocketed 35.5% higher in premarket trading.
AstraZeneca (AZN) shares were down nearly 3% in premarket trading after the biopharmaceutical company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $321 million. The company underlined that it was still making good progress toward growth by 2017.
Under Armour (UA) was up 1.4% after reporting a 31% surge in sales over its fourth quarter. Net income was up 37% to 40 cents a share, beating estimates by a penny.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.