U.S. stock index futures were modestly higher Thursday, helped by some better-than-expected economic data and a day after logging a massive post-election plunge that pushed the Dow below 13,000 for the first time in nearly two months.
On the economic front, jobless claims fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000 in the previous week, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected a reading of 370,000. The four-week moving average rose 3,250 to 370,500.
And the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in September to $41.55 billion as exports increased, according to the Commerce Department, suggesting the economy expanded more than previously believed in the third quarter. Analysts expected the gap to widen to $45.0 billion.
Stocks took a sharp 2-percent nosedive in a post-election selloff Wednesday, with the Dow logging its biggest decline in nearly a year, prompted by concerns over the looming "fiscal cliff" and amid renewed worries over Europe's weak economy.
Among earnings, Kohl's posted slightly higher earnings and the department store chain forecast same-stores sales will rise during the current holiday quarter.
Dean Foods jumped after the food and beverage company topped earnings expectations and raised its full-year forecast.