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Futures Add to Gains on Greece, Jobs News

Stock futures, already in positive territory on an apparent deal to rescue Greece, added to gains on good news from the labor market.

The government said weekly jobless claims fell 43,000 in the week ended Feb. 6, a welcome reversal of a recent trend that saw the metric increasing and raising doubts about how soon the employment picture would recover.

Wall Street earlier gained after European President President Herman Van Rompuy confirmed an agreement to bail out Greece from its crushing debt burden, though details remain sketchy.

Wall Street's major averages posted modest losses yesterday on continuing fears over Greece and prepared remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that indicated the central bank had progressed in its plans to begin scaling back its various liquidity programs.

Among today's weather-related postponements, the usual Thursday report on natural gas inventories, which will be out tomorrow morning at 10:30 am New York time, and the government's report on January retail sales, which has been pushed to tomorrow morning at 8:30 am.

December business inventories are out today at 10 am, with consensus forecasts calling for a rise of 0.2 percent following an increase of 0.4 percent in November.

The Treasury auctions $16 billion in 30-year bonds, with the results available shortly after 1 pm.


Wednesday's after-the-bell reports provide a few stocks to watch this morning, including videogame maker Activision Blizzard, which beat estimates and declared an annual dividend for the first time, and insurer Allstate, which also beat estimates.

Activision shares rose 6 percent in premarket trading.

In earnings news, AutoNation, the largest car dealership in the US, posted a profit of 29 cents per share that beat analyst estimates. Hotel chain Marriott also topped expectations with a profit of 28 cents a share.

Media conglomerate Viacom also beat expectations on cost-cutting and few major DVD releases. PepsiCo reported earnings of 90 cents a share that met estimates, though its shares edged lower immediately after the release.

AutoNation shares gained 1.5 percent premarket while Marriott rose 1 percent and Viacom was up nearly 3 percent.

Panera Bread and McAfee highlight the list of after-the-bell reports on today's schedule.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.

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