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Futures Ease on Weak Jobs Report; Banks Gain

U.S. stock index futures struggled to hold gains Thursday after the weekly jobless claims report erased an earlier rally, but the better-than-expected Spanish bond auction and a round of solid earnings helped buoy the market.

Spain’s 2.5 billion euro ($3.3 billion) auction of 2- and 10-year sovereign bonds early in the European trading session met with solid demand. Yields rose on the 10-year debt to 5.743 percent, but fell on the 2-year debt to 3.463 percent. European shares rose after the auction results were announced.

Futures sustained a brief jolt early on following rumors that French debt was set for a downgrade ahead of this weekend's elections. However, the move was brief and the market looked poised for a modestly positive move.

On the economic front, jobless claims fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000 last week, which was less than expected, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected claims falling to 370,000, according to a Reuters poll. The prior week's figure was revised up to 388,000 from the previously reported 380,000 and the four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, rose 5,500 to 374,750.

On the earnings front, Bank of America's first quarter earnings easily surpassed expectations, with profit at 31 cents a share against estimates of 12 cents. Revenue of $22.8 billion also beat.

The news was equally good for Morgan Stanley, which reported earnings of 71 cents a share, beating estimatesof 44 cents.

Elsewhere in earnings, Dow components Verizon and Du Pont also posted earnings beats. In addition, fellow Dow component Travelers , also easily beat its Street view.

Microsoft, AMD and Capital One are among companies scheduled to report after the closing bell on Thursday.

Gilead Sciences surged after an experimental hepatitis C drug acquired by the biotech company produced encouraging results in a clinical trial.

Existing home sales data for March will be released at 10 a.m. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast 4.62 million sales were made in March compared with 4.59 million in February.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday the Philadelphia Fed index will be released. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast the monthly index fell from 12.5 in March to 10.3 in April.

The Conference Board releases its leading economic indicators index for March at 10 a.m. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast a 0.2 percent rise, compared with a 0.7 percent increase in February.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators; Earnings from Microsoft, AMD, Capital One, SanDisk
FRIDAY: Earnings from GE, McDonald's, Schlumberger

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