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Futures Extend Gains After Economic News

Futures added to their gains Thursday as investors cheered a handful of encouraging economic news and after Germany's parliament passed a crucial vote which approved the reforms to the EFSF.

On the economic front, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent, according to the Commerce Department, pointing to slow growth rather than a recession. Economists had expected a 1.2 percent annualized pace of growth, compared with a 1 percent rate in the preliminary estimate.

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims fell more than expected, down 37,000 to 391,000 for the week ending Sept. 24, reported the Labor Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a total of 420,000 new filings, compared with 423,000 in the prior week.

And corporate profit rose at a 4.3 percent rate in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department, the biggest increase in a year, instead of 4.1 percent. Profit gained 0.1 percent in the first quarter.

European shares gainedafter Germany's parliament approved reforms to EFSF that would allow the fund to participate in the primary market and to recapitalize European banks in a much-anticipated vote in the Bundestag. Potential rebels within Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition were contained as 523 lawmakers voted in favor of the reform, with 85 opposing and three abstaining.

The vote come as international auditors return to Athens to deliver a verdict on whether Greece's tougher austerity measures qualify for aid to avert a default that would plunge the country into bankruptcy.

Goldman Sachs will be in focus after Deutsche Bank reduced its estimates for the financial giant to a loss of 25 cents this quarter from 50 cents, citing euro zone sovereign debt issues and a weaker macroeconomic backdrop.

Hewlett-Packard hired Goldman Sachs to help the company defend itself against possible activist investors who could push for change, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Advanced Micro Devices plunged after the chipmaker slashed its revenue and profit forecastfor the third quarter, citing manufacturing issues that put even further behind rival Intel .

Micron is slated to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.

Amazon.com continued to gain after the online retail giant launched its color-screen tablet Kindle Fireat a mass market-friendly $199 to compete with Apple's iPad. The tablet will run on Android .

And workers represented by the United Auto Workers union approved a four-year labor contract with General Motors , the first such deal for the automaker since its 2009 bankruptcy.

At 10 am ET, the National Association of Realtors issues Pending Home Sales for August. Economists told Reuters they expected a 1.8 percent drop, compared with a 1.3 percent drop in the previous month.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: twitter.com/JeeYeonParkCNBC

On Tap This Week:

THURSDAY: Pending home sales, 7-yr note auction, farm prices; Earnings from Micron
FRIDAY: Personal income & outlays, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment, Fed's Bullard speaks