U.S. stock index futures held their gains across the board Thursday following the latest jobless claims report and trade data.
(Read more: As US stocks near high, is it time to cherry pick?)
On the economic front, weekly jobless claims declined 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 340,000 last week. Meanwhile, a Labor Department analyst said claims from the backlog in California were still working their way through the system. Ongoing computer issues in California have muddied the claims figures since September.
And the U.S. trade deficit widened slightly by 0.4 percent to $38.9 billion in August as exports slipped, according to the Commerce Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a reading of $39.5 billion.
"The market seems to want numbers that aren't bad but aren't good—somewhere in the middle," said Jim Iuorio, director at TJM Institutional Services. "What the market would really love is numbers that continue to give us a lack of clarity because if the Fed doesn't have clarity, they're certainly not going to talk about taper."
U.S. stocks have remain near record highs in recent sessions, with the S&P 500 up 22.5 percent for the year so far.