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U.S. stock-index futures slipped on Thursday as investors offered muted reaction to a better-than-expected report on the labor market.
Initial jobless claims fell by 26,000 to to 319,000 last week, versus a 325,000 estimate. The four-week average rose to 324,750 from 320,250 the week before, the Labor Department said.
"The labor market continues its upward pace but the question remains as to whether we're on the cusp of a new acceleration or are just back to the pre-winter trend," emailed Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.
Priceline Group gained ahead of the opening bell after the online travel company reported a 36 percent increase in quarterly profit. Tesla Motors declined after the electric car maker's second-quarter outlook, delivered late Wednesday, proved disappointing to some.
Official data showed China's exports and imports rose in April on the year, defying expectations for a dip in both figures.
"China's export sector seems to be doing ok, as would be expected during a year in which domestic demand in the U.S., Japan, U.K., and Europe is strengthening," said Bill Adams, senior international economist for PNC Financial Services Group.
Plus, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to strike a more conciliatory note on Wednesday night, when he called for the postponement of a secession vote in the troubled Ukrainian region of Donetsk. He also said Russian troops had been removed from the border with Ukraine. The comments sent Russian stocks soaring and eased investors' nerves.
Global stocks were also boosted by Wednesday's dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who suggested the U.S. economy still needed support.
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Yellen will now testify to the Senate Budget committee in Thursday's trading session.
News Corp will post numbers after the close of trade.