Stock index futures turned positive following news that Citigroup was converting interim securities to common shares and initiating a reverse stock split.
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- Pre-Markets and Futures Data
Following a gain of about 11 percent, Citi shares nearly 5 percent in premarket trading after bringing stock futures off their lows. Futures were slightly above fair value as traders digested the previous day's news that the Federal Reserve was buying huge quantities of government debt.
In economic news, initial jobless fell by 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 646,000; well below the 652,000 economists had expected. Meanwhile, continuing claims surged by 185,000 to a record 5.47 million.
Still to come, leading indicators and the Philadelphia Fed survey at 10 a.m. ET.
International markets were still riding high on the Federal Reserve's announcement that it would buy $300 billion in Treasurys.
The fallout over AIG's retention bonus payouts continued with the Washington Post reporting that the winding down of the company's most dangerous bets had already been done before the company paid bonuses to its financial products group. AIG CEO Edward Liddy said Wednesday that the bonuses were necessary to keep employees that could help the firm avoid huge losses based mostly on credit defaults swaps.
And some AIG employees are giving their bonuses back, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- AIG Bonuses Came After Worst Was Over: Report
Financials were indicating higher, with Bank of America surging 6.4 percent in premarket trading on hopes that the Fed moves would free up lending.
But Federal Express shares fell 3.6 percent after the carrier's earnings missed analyst expectations.
In the tech sector, shares of Oracle jumped 4 percent in German trading. The company handily beat analysts' expectations for quarterly profit and sales after the bell Wednesday and also announced a dividend.
Oil prices continued to climb, eclipsing the $50 barrier that has long been at the top of the range in which crude prices have moved. ExxonMobil shares picked up 1 percent in light premarket trading.
Shares of CNBC.com-parent General Electric also gained, rising 2.2 percent premarket ahead of an investors meeting at which the company plans a full discourse on its financing arm.
And in earnings news, FedEx will report its latest quarterly numbers, with analysts predicting a share drop in profit to 46 cents a share from $1.26 a share in the year-ago quarter.