Futures Hold Gains Amid Greek Deal Hopes

U.S. stock futures held their early gains Thursday amid optimism that Greece will complete its debt swap deal, and despite a gain in weekly jobless claims.

Weekly claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly gained 8,000 last weekto a seasonally adjusted 362,000, according to the Labor Department. Despite the increase, claims are still near their lowest in four years. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged at 351,000 last week.

European shares extended gainsamid optimism that Greece would secure its bond swap deal with private investors. The deadline for investors to accept the deal is 3 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the ECB held interest rates at 1.0 percentfor the third-straight month, as expected.

"The information that has become available since the beginning of February has confirmed...signs of a stabilization in the euro area economy," said ECB President Mario Draghi at a press conference. "However, the economic outlook is still subject to downside risks."

Apple edged higher a day after the tech giant unveiled a new iPadwith a "retina" high-resolution display, the company's first tablet to operate on the high-speed 4G network. In addition, at least two brokerages raised their price targets on the firm.

McDonald's slipped after the fast-food giant posted a smaller-than-expected gainin February same-store sales, hurt by weakness in Europe, Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

AIG fell after the Treasury Department said it will sell $6 billion worth of the insurer's stock and struck another deal for the insurer to pay down $8.5 billion more in obligations.

Smithfield Foods rose after the hog and pork producer posted earnings that topped estimates, helped by strong demand in Asia.

H&R Block slumped after the tax preparer posted a quarterly loss.

American Eagle gained after at least two brokerages raised their price targets, while another two boosted their ratings on the retailer.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

On Tap This Week:

THURSDAY: Quarterly services survey
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, international trade, wholesale trade; Earnings from Ann

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