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.