U.S. stock index futures came off their best levels Thursday after the ECB cut their growth forecast for the euro zone, but held modest gains after Draghi said the central bank agreed to launch a new bond-buying program and following some upbeat employment reports.
The ECB said it expects a very gradual economic recovery in the euro zone and lowered its GDP forecasts to between 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent for this year. The euro erased gains against the dollar.
Meanwhile, ECB President Mario Draghi said the new bond-buying program will be a "fully effective backstop," speaking at a press conference after the Council's monthly meeting in Frankfurt.
Seeking to back up his pledge to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, Draghi said the new bond-buying program, called Monetary Outright Transactions (MOT), aimed at the secondary market, would "safeguard the monetary policy transmission in all countries in the euro zone area."
Earlier, the ECB kept interest rates unchanged at 0.75 percent.
European shares were also trading higher, but gains were capped by disappointing PMI data out of the euro zone in the previous session, which showed the region’s private sector contracted in August for the seventh consecutive month.
On the employment front, jobless claims declined 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, hitting its lowest level in a month, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected claims to fall to to 370,000, according to a Reuters poll. However, the four-week moving average for new claims, edged up to 371,250.