US Markets

Futures Shave Gains After Economic Reports


U.S. stock index futures pared their gains Thursday following policy announcements from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank and as investors digested a pair of mixed economic reports.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims fell 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a reading of 368,000.

Meanwhile, productivity fell 2 percent in the fourth quarter, declining by the most in nearly two years, according to the Labor Department's preliminary reading. And unit labor costs jumped at a 4.5 percent rate in the fourth quarter. Economists expected productivity to slide 1.3 percent, while unit labor costs were estimated to climb 3.0 percent.

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In Europe, the ECB decided to maintain its main interest rate at 0.75 percent. Meanwhile, ECB Chief Mario Draghi may also face questioning on French President Francois Hollande's call for a target rate for the euro, as well as on his connection to the scandal at Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (Monte Paschi).

In addition, a two-day European Union (EU) summit is scheduled to kick off in Brussels, the first since British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the country will hold a referendum on EU membership.

(Read More: Carney Sets High Bar to Bank of England Changes)

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans told CNBC that the central bank policy will remain accomodative until the economy improves, easing worries that the Fed might step back earlier. Evans is a voting member of the Federal Open Markets Committee.

Blackberry rallied after Wells Fargo upgraded the smartphone company to "outperform." In addition, the tech firm announced it added former executive vice president of Verizon Richard Lynch and former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Bert Nordberg as directors to its board.

Among earnings, Sprint edged lower after the telecom company said it continued to lose subscribers in the fourth quarter, though the firm still handed in a smaller-than-expected loss and higher revenue.

Akamai plunged after the Internet content delivery company handed in a disappointing current-quarter revenue outlook. In addition, at least two brokerages slashed their price target on the firm.

Cigna gained after the insurance company beat earnings forecasts and boosted its outlook for the year, thanks to a solid increase in membership and cost controls.

DeVry surged after the for-profit education company blew past earnings expectations and JPMorgan raised its rating on the firm to "neutral" from "underweight." Other for-profit education companies also gained, including Apollo Group and Corinthian Colleges.

Credit Suisse edged higher even after the financial services company posted results that missed forecasts. Meanwhile, CEO Brady Dougan told CNBC the Swiss bank will continue to cut costs aggressively as it seeks to keep profits stable.

Alcatel-Lucent posted a loss for 2012 and reported that CEO Ben Verwaayen will step down once the telecommunications group has found a successor.

Activision Blizzard, Hasbro, LinkedIn and Coinstar are among notable companies slated to report earnings after the closing bell.

The Energy Department will issue its weekly look at natural gas inventories across the U.S. at 10:30 am ET. Inventories fell by 194 billion cubic feet in the prior week.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Consumer credit, Fed balance sheet/money supply, chain-store sales; Earnings from Activision Blizzard, Hasbro, LinkedIn, Coinstar, Opentable
FRIDAY: International trade, wholesale trade, monthly crop report; Earnings from Nissan, Moody's

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