Futures Rise After Jobless Claims Report

U.S. stock index futures climbed Thursday, boosted by a better-than-expected jobless claims report.

First-time claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected, down 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, according to the Labor Department, the biggest weekly drop in almost a year. Economists polled by Reuters expected claims falling to 380,000. The four-week moving average edged up 750 to 383,500.

The report comes ahead of the key government jobs data for April, due Friday. The latest estimates from economists surveyed by Reuters call for a gain of 170,000 new positions, a gain from March's tepid gain of 120,000.

Also on the economic front, nonfarm productivity fell in the first quarter at a 0.5 percent annual rate, according to the Labor Department, in line with expectations. Meanwhile, labor costs grew 2 percent in the first quarter after increasing at a 2.7 percent pace in the previous quarter.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its April non-manufacturing index at 10:00 a.m. Economists forecast a reading of 55.5, versus 56.0 in March. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.

The ECB held its interest rate at 1 percent. ECB President Mario Draghi said the economic outlook was "subject to downside risks" and that the latest data "highlight prevailing uncertainty. He added that inflation will remain in line with price stability objectives, but is likely to stay above 2 percent this year. European shares held modest gainsfollowing the announcement.

Among earnings, General Motors posted earnings that topped expectations as the U.S. automaker increased prices and was able to cut losses in its European operations.

Whole Foods Market jumped after the upscale grocery store chain beat earnings estimates and boosted its full-year earnings guidance. In addition, at least five brokerages raised their price target on the firm.

Chesapeake edged higher, rebounding from its 14-percent plunge in the previous session, after CEO Aubrey McClendon apologized for his personal financial dealings. The company also posted earnings that missed expectationsearlier this week.

A number of retailers traded lower as sales showed a slowdown in Aprilwith many companies falling short of analysts' expectations, due to the early start of spring. Target , Costco and Wet Seal were among companies that posted disappointing same-store sales for the month, while Limited continued to show signs of strength.

On the M&A front, Dutch food and chemicals group DSM is buying U.S. medical device-maker Kensey Nash for $360 million to strengthen its biomedical business, leaving it with plenty of cash for more deals.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: ISM non-mfg index, chain-store sales, Nokia annual mtg, Verizon shareholders mtg; Earnings from Kraft, AIG, LinkedIn
FRIDAY: Government non-farm payrolls, Alcoa shareholders mtg, Berkshire shareholders mtg; Earnings from Berkshire Hathaway

More From CNBC.com: