Futures Hold Modest Gains; H-P Jumps

U.S. stock index futures climbed after briefly cutting gains Thursday as investors sifted through a batch of mixed economic reports and amid ongoing worries over the euro zone.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims edged down a mere 2,000to a seasonally adjusted 370,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims to remain unchanged. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, dropped 5,500 to 370,000.

Meanwhile, durable goods orders rose less than expectedin April, gaining 0.2 percent, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected orders to increase 0.5 percent.

And U.S. manufacturing growth slowed in May to hit a three-month low, according to a new industry survey. Markit said its U.S. "flash" manufacturing PMI fell to 53.9. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

European shares were higherin choppy trade, with disappointing manufacturing data from both France and Germany exerting downward pressure. The Ifo German business climate index for May also came in much lower than expected.

European Central Bank policymaker Ewald Nowotny said any Greek exit from the euro zone would pose a huge disruption with unforeseeable consequences, and stressed that he did not want to take part in speculation about the prospects of an exit occurring.

"These would be large, massive shocks where you would not know what the consequences would be," he told reporters.

Asked about what additional steps the ECB could take to address the economic situation, he pointed out the ECB had already taken significant steps that needed time to show their impact.

Among earnings, Hewlett-Packard rallied after the Dow component beat on earnings and announced plans to lay off 27,000 employees, or 8 percent of its workforce. Its third-quarter outlook fell short of expectations but its full-year topped the consensus. At least three brokerages raise their price target on the firm.

NetApp plunged after the computer storage and data management company's guidance disappointed and the CEO warned of uncertainty in Europe. At least eight brokerages cut their price target on the firm.

Costco rose after the warehouse club operator posted better-than-expected earnings.

Tiffany slumped after the upscale jewelry retailer lowered its guidance, hurt by slowing economic global growth.

The U.S. Treasury is set to auction $29 billion in 7-year notes on Thursday, with the results scheduled to be available shortly after 1:00 p.m.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: 7-yr note auction, BlackRock shareholders mtg, Goldman Sachs shareholders mtg, McDonald's shareholders mtg
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, USDA food prices outlook

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