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U.S. futures higher ahead of data, ECB; Dow Jones up 0.20%

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Shutterstock photo - U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday, as expectations for further easing measures by the European Central Bank in the coming months supported sentiment, ahead of the bank's policy statement later in the day.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.20% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.16% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.27% increase.

The ECB was widely expected to leave rates on hold at 0.75%, but concerns over the economic outlook for the region fuelled speculation over the prospect of future rate cuts.

Euro zone growth concerns re-emerged after data on Wednesday confirmed that the euro zone economy contracted by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, in line with preliminary estimates and economists' forecasts.

Sentiment was also supported by Wednesday's upbeat ADP nonfarm payrolls data, which fuelled optimism over a recovery in the U.S. labor market.

Tech stocks were likely to be in focus, following reports investor Carl Icahn built a stake of around 100 million shares in Dell and wants the personal computer maker to conduct a leveraged recapitalization, complicating founder Michael Dell's effort to take the company private.

Dell shares rose 0.21% in after-hour trade.

Johnson Controls was also expected to be active, as the auto-parts maker was said to be exploring a potential sale of its automotive electronics business, but has no "current intention" to sell its automotive interiors unit.

The news sent shares in the company up 0.21% after hours.

In the retail sector, Costco Wholesale was slated to move after posting a 6% rise in comparable sales in February, beating marketexpectations, thanks to higher fuel prices.

Elsewhere, Bloomberg reported that Time Warner will spin off its magazine business later this year, turning the nine-decade-old publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated into a separate publicly held company.

Time Warner saw shares jump 1.41% in late trading, following the news.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 climbed 0.55%, France's CAC 40 advanced 0.57%, Germany's DAX rose 0.32%, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.44%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.03%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index added 0.3%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish the weekly government report on initial jobless claims and official data on the trade balance. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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