U.S. stock index futures climbed Thursday as Wall Street cheered a better-than-expected jobless claims report and after the European Central Bank cut its key interest rate.
Weekly jobless claims dropped 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 324,000 last week, according to the Labor Department, falling to the lowest rate since January 2008. Economists polled by Reuters expected to see an increase to 346,000 in the previous week. The four-week average declined 16,000 to 342,250.
Separately, the U.S. trade deficit declined more than expected in March as imports posted their biggest decline since 2009, according to the Commerce Department.
Meanwhile, U.S. nonfarm productivity rose modestly in the first quarter at a 0.7 percent annual rate, according to the Labor Department, missing expectations for a 1.2 percent rate. And productivity fell at a 1.7 percent rate in the fourth quarter, according to revised figures.
As expected, the ECB knocked down its key rate by a quarter-point to 0.50 percent, the first rate cut since July 2012, as global central banks raced to enact easier monetary policy. ECB chief Mario Draghi added that the monetary stance will remain accomodative for "as long as is needed."
Draghi told reporters at a press conference following the rate cut announcement that inflation could remain subject to some volatility throughout the year. "Overall, euro area economic activity should stabilize and recover gradually in the second half of the year."