* ECB cuts rates to support flagging euro zone economy
* U.S. jobless claims fall sharply to five-year low
* Futures up: S&P 6.4 pts, Dow 76 pts, Nasdaq 12.50 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open
slightly higher Thursday as an interest rate cut from the
European Central Bank and better-than-expected weekly jobless
claims data in the U.S. boosted investors' appetite for risky
But U.S. stock index futures trimmed some earlier gains as
investors digested comments by ECB President Mario Draghi at a
After a slew of weak economic data in the past few weeks,
the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits
fell sharply last week to its lowest level since the early days
of the 2007-09 recession, suggesting the job market is still
healing despite weakness in the broader economy.
Ahead of the data, the ECB lowered its main interest rate by
a quarter point to a new record low of 0.50 percent, in response
to a drop in inflation well below its target level, and amid
"In the grand scope of things, you've got the Fed still in
stimulus mode and Japan surprising markets with the size of
their latest stimulus package. Now you have the ECB cutting
rates," said Todd Salamone, director of research at Schaeffer's
Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"It all adds to the theme that global central banks are in a
stimulus mode and that is positive for equities."
S&P 500 futures added 6.4 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 76
points while Nasdaq 100 futures added 12.50 points.
General Motors rose 4 percent in premarket trading
after reporting a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit as its
North American business improved and its loss in Europe was
smaller than Wall Street estimated.
Shares of Facebook Inc rose 2.2 percent in premarket
trading after the social network said late Wednesday its mobile
advertising revenue growth gained momentum in the first three
LinkedIn, which is to report earnings later in the
day, was up 0.9 percent in premarket trading.
Other data showed the U.S. trade deficit fell more than
expected in March as imports recorded their biggest drop since
2009, the latest sign of slowing domestic demand.
U.S. stocks slumped Wednesday, with the Dow ending a
four-day winning streak, as economic data still pointed to
anemic growth while bellwether companies disappointed on
Wednesday's decline came as the Federal Reserve said it
would keep its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program in place,
but may cut or increase that program depending on the state of
the economy. Data showing weaker-than-expected hiring in the
private sector added momentum to a selloff in equities.