NEW YORK -- Stock futures rebounded strongly Thursday on better-than-expected employment numbers that will likely provide some optimism to millions of U.S. job seekers.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted last week to seasonally adjusted 339,000, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest level in more than four years.
Dow Jones industrial futures rose 55 points to 13,323. The broader S&P futures gained 7.6 points to 1,433.90. Nasdaq futures tacked on 17.25 points to 2,740.
Weekly applications fell by 30,000 to the fewest since February 2008. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped by 11,500 to 364,000, a six-month low.
It's a significant number because when applications drop below 375,000 consistently, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
The report comes on the heels of surprisingly strong job numbers for September.
Still threatening any recovery is the worsening situation in Europe and Asia.
The U.S. trade deficit widened in August and exports slid to the lowest level in six months as a widening recession in Europe and a slowing economy in China and elsewhere cuts in do demand for U.S. products.
The deficit increased to $44.2 billion in August, the biggest gap since May and a 4.1 percent increase from July, the Commerce Department said Thursday.