U.S. stock index futures held their gains Thursday, after major averages logged a three-day losing streak in the previous session, thanks to stronger-than-expected trade data from China and following the weekly jobless claims report.
Weekly jobless claims ticked up 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 333,000 last week, according to the Labor Department, but still remained near its lowest level since the recession. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to rise to 336,000 last week.
Traders will also be watching the $16 billion auction of 30-year bonds with the results available shortly after 1pm ET.
Investors also cheered as China posted stronger-than-expected July trade figures, rebounding after a disappointing report in June, raising hopes that the world's second biggest economy may be stabilizing.
"July seems to reflect a return to a 'normal', relatively uninspiring trend," analysts from Moody's said in a note. "In other words, while the worst seems to be over, the upturn will be relatively flat."
(Read more: China market bounce: trend change or false alarm?)
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei extended losses after tumbling 4 percent in the previous session, after the Bank of Japan opted to leave monetary policy unchanged at the end of its two-day meeting. The dollar-yen traded near a seven-week low of 96.15.
McDonald's ticked higher after the fast-food giant posted July same-store sales that rose 0.7 percent, edging past expectations, as stronger-than-expected sales in the U.S. helped offset weakness in Europe.
Among retailers, L Brands rallied after the parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works posted same-store sales that rose 3 percent in July and lifted its second quarter earnings guidance.
Costco posted July same-store sales that rose 4 percent, but still missed expectations, hurt by a stronger dollar.
Aeropostale slumped after the teen apparel retailer said same-store sales in the second quarter plunged 15 percent and the company now sees a second-quarter loss of between 23 cents a share and 25 cents a share, versus Wall Street estimates for a loss of 17 cents a share. Adding to woes, teen specialty apparel store Zumiez posted a weaker-than-expected 0.8 percent gain in July same-store sales. Roth Capital cut its price target on Zumiez to $32 a share from $36.
And earlier this week, rival teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters said its second-quarter profit will likely be less than half of what Wall Street was expecting, citing weak sales and lower margins.
Among earnings, Groupon spiked sharply after the daily-deals website named co-founder Eric Lefkofsky its CEO and reported a record quarter for its North American business. In addition, the firm announced a $300 million share buyback program. At least eight brokerages lifted their price targets on the company.
Tesla surged after the electric-car maker posted earnings and revenue that blew past Wall Street expectations. In an earnings calls, CEO and founder Elon Musk said a compact electric sedan model due in 2016 is expected to have a 200-mile range per charge. At least five brokerages boosted their price targets on the firm.
Beam posted quarterly results that exceeded expectations and announced a stock buyback program of up to 3 million shares. The company also reiterated its full-year earnings target.
In Europe, shares staged a mild recovery following the Bank of England's press conference, at which governor Mark Carney outlined his plans to link interest rates to unemployment.
(Read more: BoE's Carney fails to impress with 'Fed 2.0')
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Natural gas inventories, Fed balance sheet/money supply; Earnings from Lions Gate Entertainment, Nvidia, Priceline.com, Annie's
FRIDAY: Wholesale trade
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