U.S. stock index futures shaved some losses Thursday after a better-than-expected jobless claims report and a batch of M&A announcements, but a disappointing reading on the European economy put a damper on gains.
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On the economic front, jobless claims dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 341,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 360,000.
H.J. Heinz soared more than 20 percent in pre-market trading following an announcement that the maker of ketchup and other food products will be purchased by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G. The deal will be worth $72.50 a share, or $28 billion. Other packaged-goods companies were also trading higher in the wake of the announcement, including General Mills, Kellogg and Kraft Foods.