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Stock futures slide after jump in third-quarter GDP sparks taper fears

U.S. stock index futures erased gains on Thursday after data had the economy growing more rapidly than forecast, heightening thoughts that the Federal Reserve could start cutting stimulus before the end of the year.

The second estimate of U.S. third-quarter growth had it revised up to 3.6 percent from the previous estimate of 2.8 percent, while initial jobless claims fell by 23,000 to 298,000 last week.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect Friday's non-farm payrolls report to show that 180,000 jobs were created in November, down from 204,000 in October. However, fears the number may surprise to the upside were ignited on Wednesday when the respected ADP private employment report suggested that 215,000 jobs were created last month.

"We still don't think the Fed will taper in two weeks but… it does look set to be a close call. No taper would likely set off a decent rally into the New Year and January, but a taper might make the start of 2014 more subdued," said Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid and Anthony Ip in a morning research note on Thursday.

Futures got little help from the European Central Bank, which left its main interest rate unchanged, as did the Bank of England.

Stocks worth watching on Thursday include Apple, after reports that the tech giant has signed a deal with China Mobile to distribute Apple iPhones on its vast network. Apple shares traded around 2.6 percent higher on the Frankfurt stock exchange early on Thursday.

(Read more: Apple signs deal with China Mobile: report)

This follows a tweet by activist billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday, in which he said that he had told Apple he would push for an increased buyback for investors.

Shares of Germany's Merck bounce by around 3.4 percent after the chemicals maker agreed to buy AZ Electronic Materials, which makes chemicals used in Apple iPads.

Ford shares may also be worth a look, after the automobile company announced the global launch of its iconic Mustang, after 50 years of production. The revamped Mustang will be launched simultaneously in six cities in four continents, including Europe.

(Read more: New Ford Mustang debuts across the globe)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that it was written on December 5, 2013.

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