Futures Extend Gains After Economic Reports

Futures added to gains Thursday even after new claims for unemployment benefits gained last week, and following news the U.S. trade deficit fell unexpectedly.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are looking to snap a six-day losing streak, the Dow's longest decline since July 2010 and the S&P 500's worst since February 2009.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 1,000 last week, according to the Labor Department, while initial claims for state jobless benefits increased to 427,000. A department official added the slim rise meant the level was "essentially unchanged.''

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 415,000 from a previously reported count of 422,000.

Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly to $43.7 billion in April from a revised estimate of $46.8 billion, as exports rose to a new record and imports from Japan tumbled more than 25 percent in the aftermath of its earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, according to the commerce department. Analysts expected the April trade gap to widen to $48.8 billion.

Also on the economic front, the wholesale trade report for April is expected at 10 am ET.

Texas Instruments tumbled after the chipmaker cut its earnings and revenue forecastas the firm struggles to recover from production disruptions in Japan.

Meanwhile, Nokia slipped after the phone maker's chief technology officer announced a leave of absenceand is unlikely to return after disagreements over the strategy of the struggling company.

Also on the tech front, Intel announced "multi-million" investments in two Russian online firms, in a fresh sign of investor confidence in growth prospects of internet businesses.

Citigroupconfirmed a credit card breachat its online unit. However, Citi said only about 1 percent of customers were affected by the breach, and that social security numbers and card security codes were not compromised.

J M Smucker gained after the maker of Jif peanut butter posted better-than-expected results and forecast strong sales, as the company continues to raise prices of its brands without putting off shoppers.

Oil prices rose above $100 a barrelafter OPEC failed to reach agreement over increasing production with Iran blocking any such moves and Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi calling the meeting the worst the oil group had ever had.

European shares fell for a seventh straight day in a choppy session, with retailers under pressure on a grim consumer spending outlook and banks falling. Earlier, the European Central Bank, as expected, held interest rates at 1.25 percentahead of a news conference which analysts believe will signal a rise is likely next month.

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Wholesale trade, 30-year Treasury bond auction, money supply; Lubrizol shareholders vote on Berkshire takeover; Fed's Plosser speaks, Fed's Yellen speaks; earnings from National Semiconductor.
FRIDAY: Import & export prices, Treasury budget; earnings from Lululemon Athletica.

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