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.