U.S. stock index futures advanced Thursday, following the weekly jobless claims report that came in slightly better than expected, but investors continued to worry over the ongoing euro zone debt crisis.
Weekly claims for unemployment benefits edge down last week 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims inching up to 369,000. The four-week moving average for new claims fell 5,250 to 379,000.
Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in March to $51.8 billion, the biggest gain in nearly a year, according to the Commerce Department. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the trade gap to widen to about $50.0 billion.
And import prices fell 0.5 percent, according to the Labor Department, logging their largest drop in 10 months. Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices to fall 0.2 percent last month.
In Europe, Greece's far left leader, Alexis Tsipras, said he was unable to form a coalition government. Tsipras is the second Greek political leader to announce that he could not form a government after New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said on Monday that he could not forge a coalition.
The two leaders met on Wednesday but were unable to reach an agreement.
There will be one final attempt by the Socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos to form a coalition government in Greece; should those talks fail, the country will likely revert to a technocratic government until new elections can be held.
Stocks have been whipsawed in the last week over ongoing political unrest in the euro zone. The Dow has plunged 444 points in the last six sessions, its longest losing streak since last August.
Cisco Systems tumbled after the tech bellwether posted guidance that disappointed Wall Street. The Dow component reported higher-than-expected earnings but said the latter half of the year was "really hard to read" as customers were more cautious about Europe. At least seven brokerages cut their price targets.
News Corp. reported quarterly results that topped forecasts, thanks to strong cable network and movie studio performances, and also announced a $5 billion stock buyback program. Analysts were mixed on the stock—BMO raised its price target on the firm to $21 from $19, while Lazard cut its price target to $25 from $25.
Sony said it expected to return to profitability in the current fiscal year, as its consumer electronics and components businesses recover. Sony has posted losses for four straight years.
Kohl's slipped after the department-store chain reported a sharp decline in earnings as its gross margin was hurt by price cuts.
Nordstrom is scheduled to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.
SunTrust Banks is in talks to sell its asset management unit RidgeWorth Investments, sources close to the situation told Reuters. SunTrust unsuccessfully tried to sell the unit two years ago.
On the M&A front, Coty sweetened its bid for Avon Products , but said it would withdraw its offer if Avod did not enter into discussions by next Monday.
The government is scheduled to auction $16 billion in 30-year bonds at 1pm ET.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: 30-yr bond auction, Ford shareholders mtg, Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks, Fed's Evans speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from Nordstrom
FRIDAY: Producer price index, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Nissan, Nvidia
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