Stock Futures Hold Gains on U.S. Data, ECB

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were extending advances Thursday after some upbeat data on the U.S. labor market and U.S. trade, and as the European Central Bank kept its monetary conditions unchanged.

The uptick follows steep declines of the major U.S. equity averages during Wednesday's session, when stocks were slammed by fiscal cliff fears.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 32 points, or 13.27 points above fair value, at 12,895. Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 2.50 points, or 0.82 points above fair value, at 1391. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 6.50 points, or 7.61 points above fair value, at 2616.

The Dow closed below 13,000 for the first time since Aug. 2 Wednesday as worries about the fiscal cliff rattled investors in the wake of President Barack Obama's re-election on Tuesday.

The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 3 fell by 8,000 to a less-than-expected 355,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 363,000. On average, economists were expecting the figure to rise to 370,000.

The four-week moving average was 370,500, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 367,250.

Continuing claims in the week ended Oct. 27 fell by 135,000 to 3.127 million, from a downwardly revised 3.262 million. Economists were expecting continuing claims of 3.253 million.

The Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $41.5 billion in September, down from the previous deficit figure of $43.8 billion that was revised from $44.2 billion. A trade deficit of $45 billion was expected for September.

"This is hard to read ... claims we dismiss as Sandy impacted and so are likely to rise in weeks to come," noted David Ader, a strategist at CRT. "Trade is narrower with a narrower revision and so good for GDP, say a 0.4% contribution, but we'll point out that the real goods balance excluding petroleum was wider. The very nuanced point is that when it comes to things this actually represents a bit of a drag -- we bet no one else will make that point."

The European Central Bank stood pat on its benchmark interest rate of 0.75% Thursday amid deepening concerns about the eurozone economy and as Spain continued to refrain from requesting a bailout that would trigger ECB bond-buying.

As expected, the Bank of England held off on additional quantitative easing for now amid some recent upbeat economic data, though more stimulus looked to be a possibility in the near future amid doubts of a sustained economic recovery.

The U.K. Monetary Policy Committee decided to keep the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5% and the size of the bond-buying program at 375 billion pounds.

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