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Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Jobless Claims

Tickers in this article: SFD ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC AAPL LULU BHP WLT BRCM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stock averages were mostly lower Thursday after the latest U.S. labor market data and as investors awaited more information from the European Central Bank meeting.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 7 points, or 2.49 points below fair value, at 13,017. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.60 points, or 0.02 points above fair value, at 1407. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 5 points, or 2.39 points below fair value, at 2632.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rose on Wednesday, rebounding after President Barack Obama spoke to top business leaders and made a YouTube push to pass his budget proposal.

In the afternoon Wednesday, news that a group of Republicans were supporting the bi-partisan call to break the gridlock over the "fiscal cliff" talks boosted sentiment.

A big drop in Apple (AAPL) shares dragged down the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

The European Central Bank on Thursday kept its benchmark rate unchanged at a record low of 0.75%. The meeting was to be followed by a press conference.

President Mario Draghi is likely to state again that the ECB is ready to put its bond purchase plan into action, according to Ben May, an economist at Capital Economics.

At the same time, "he will doubtless also stress that it is up to euro-zone governments to solve the debt crisis and he is unlikely to offer much hope of further imminent policy support for the wider economy," said May.

The Bank of England also left its interest rate the unchanged Thursday at a record low of 0.5% and kept its economic stimulus program at 375 billion pounds.

The FTSE 100 in London was rising 0.33% Thursday, while the DAX in Germany was gaining 0.94%.

The Asian markets finished mixed. Japan's Nikkei average finished up 0.81% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed off by 0.09% as investors began to shift their attention away from China's infrastructure spending plans to the ongoing uncertainties relating to the "fiscal cliff" and eurozone.

The Labor Department said that initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 1 fell 25,000 to 370,000, coming in lower than the expected 380,000. The prior week's claims were upwardly revised to 395,000.

"Jobless claims fell 25,000 through last Saturday and by more than expected driving the level of claims back down to 370,000 as the impact of Hurricane Sandy dissipates," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak.

The four-week claims average rose to 408,000 from 405,750.

Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 24 fell by 100,000 to 3.21 million; economists were expecting 3.275 million.

Meanwhile, the Challenger job cut report registered a 34.4% rise in job cuts in November, after being up 11.6% the prior month.