US Markets

US stock futures climb on ECB policy moves


U.S. stock-index futures gained on Thursday, with the S&P 500 on track to open in record territory, after the European Central Bank cuts its deposit rate below zero and said additional steps would include targeted long-term loans.

"This is a historic move by a major central bank," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The ECB cut its key lending rate to 0.15 percent from 0.25 percent and the overnight deposit rate to 0.1 percent from zero, with policy makers attempting to fend off deflation in the region.

"It was well telegraphed that these were likely moves by the ECB," said Luschini. The added measures that have the ECB offering banks cheap, long-term funding so long as they use it to hike lending to companies were intended to provide "liquidity into the corporate marketplace, where banks have been reluctant lenders," said Luschini.

The euro lost ground against the U.S. dollar at 1.35 dollars per euro, while the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield turned higher, up 3 basis points to 2.641 percent.

Gold futures for August delivery erased gains, lately hold steady at $1,244.30 an ounce.

Stock futures held gains after the U.S. government reported jobless claims rose by 8,000 to 312,000 last week.

The G-7 meeting in Brussels will conclude on Thursday. It was originally scheduled to place in Russia and the agenda has been dominated by the crisis in Ukraine and relations with Russia.

José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing president of the European Commission, told CNBC on the outskirts of the meeting that there was unanimous agreement among Europe's leaders to step up sanctions on Russia if the crisis with Ukraine escalates.

U.S. data had Challenger, Gray & Christmas reporting employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 52,961 in May.

Plus, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota will be delivering a conference speech on low real interest rates.

J.M. Smucker will post quarterly results before Wall Street opens on Thursday, along with Joy Global and Ciena.

Shares of Sprint and T-Mobile, the U.S.'s third and fourth-largest wireless operators, will be in focus on Thursday, on media reports that they are nearing a long-awaited merger.

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A raft of U.S. data saw Wall Street shares gain on Wednesday. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book of regional business conditions showed expansion in all districts, while the ISM services rose to 56.3 in May. That beat estimates, and offset May's ADP report, which saw the creation of 179,000 private jobs, below expectations for 215,000.