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Stock futures retain sharp gains after claims data

U.S. stock-index futures signaled a higher open on Thursday amid earnings and jobs data, following the release of the latest minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve Wednesday afternoon.

Weekly figures had jobless claims falling by 4,000 to 294,000.

A trader works the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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A trader works the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

There are also Fed speakers planned, with Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren due to speaks at 1 pm ET. In the evening, prominent dove and lone dissenter on December's FOMC statement, the Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, will speak on monetary policy speaks at 8 pm ET.

In Europe, shares were higher on expectations that pessimistic euro-zone data could prompt the European Central Bank to implement more aggressive stimulus measures.

Brent crude bounced around $51 a barrel on Thursday amid the second-biggest price rout in the commodity on record.