Stock index futures rose in choppy trade on Thursday on talk the Greek government might collapse, thus avoiding a referendum on its euro zone membership and easing concerns about an imminent default.

European shares recovered from early losses and rose 1 percent, with the bank sector, a key focus because of its sovereign debt exposure, up 1.4 percent, and a Greek bank index up 8.4 percent.

The prevailing sentiment is (Greek Prime Minister George) Papandreou is on the brink of being ousted, and if that's the case there's no referendum and we're back to where we were a week ago, said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

S&P 500 futures rose 5.5 points and were slightly 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 67 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.25 points.

European leaders agreed last week on a plan to reduce Greece's debt and strengthen the region's bailout fund in a move that helped spark a month-end rally. October was the best month for U.S. stocks in 20 years.

Papandreou has not resigned and does not intend to do so, his chief of staff told a Greek newspaper.

France and Germany earlier told Athens it would not receive its next aid tranche until a national referendum had passed, sparking fears Greece could default and the crisis could spread to larger economies.

In the United States, the Labor Department is due to release weekly unemployment insurance applications data at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). First-time claims are forecast at 400,000, according to a Reuters poll versus 402,000 in the previous week.

The Labor Department also releases preliminary third-quarter productivity and labor costs.

U.S. companies announcing quarterly results later Thursday include Starbucks Corp, American International Group Inc and First Solar Inc.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its October non-manufacturing index at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists forecast a reading of 53.5 versus 53.0 in September.

The Commerce Department releases September factory orders at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.1 percent fall, compared with a 0.2 percent drop in August.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)