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Futures Gyrate, Mergers Off

U.S. stock index futures were mixed Thursday as the possibilty of global interest rates at zero increased and deals both broke down and reemerged.

Asian stocks closed flat to slightly higher after Japan stepped up its warnings against the yen's rise to a 13-year high versus the U.S. dollar. Dealing with the situation may include intervening in the foreign exchange markets.

In Europe stocks were mixed, with two big merger deals called off as the economic situation worsened.

French bank BNP Paribas said its plan to buy a stake in Belgium's Fortiscould no longer proceed as plannedafter a Brussels Court suspended it. The deal was agreed in October as a way to rescue Fortis, which was severely hit by the credit crunch.

And Australia's Qantas Airways and British Airways said they called off talks for a $6.4 billion deal, which was seen as a good way to fight rising fuel prices and falling demand in the airline sector.

But in the auto industry, General Motors and Chryslerhave reopened merger talks, as Cerberus Capital Management has signaled its willingness to give away part of its ownership in Chrysler, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Back to the banking sector, the funds arm of Swiss bank Credit Suisseplans to quit managing U.S. money-market funds and is liquidating three funds that have about $8 billion in assets.

In earnings news, Nike said on Wednesday after the bell that quarterly net profit rose 9 percent as higher-priced products and international growth offset lower revenue in the U.S.

Discover Financial Services, FedEx and Rite Aid are due to report earnings before the bell.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims data will be released at 8:30 am New York time and are forecast to have fallen to 558,000 from 573,000 according to Briefing.com.