Stock index futures jumped on Thursday after a Greek official reported a strong uptake by investors for a debt swap that faces a deadline later in the day.

The official told Reuters the percentage of holders accepting a deal was very high, adding that the government was optimistic ahead of a 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) deadline. A debt restructuring is a key element in an international rescue package.

European and Asian shares rallied on the prospect that one of the biggest overhangs for markets will be removed, at least for now. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 <.FETU3> rose 1.3 percent as banks surged. Japan's Nikkei index <.NK225> closed up 2 percent.

It puts the issue at rest at least in the short term but it is unlikely to be the panacea or the end of drama, said Oliver Pursche, president at Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York.

Weekly jobless claims data will be closely watched ahead of Friday's key payrolls report and a day after a private survey showed the private sector added more jobs than expected last month. A slowly improving jobs market has been a key driver of the recent stocks rally.

Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 351,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a repeat of the previous week's number. The data will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT).

S&P 500 futures gained 11.4 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 104 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 20.5 points.

Central banks were expected to maintain the easy money policies that have been a tailwind for the stock market.

The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold. The Bank of England looks set to stick to its ultra-loose monetary policy to support a weak economy.

Pursche said despite the strong uptrend in the stock market, he was increasingly concerned about the outlook for first-quarter corporate earnings. Margin contraction and earnings misses could hit the market hard later this year, he said.

We see the margin compression, we see the profit misses in ... fourth-quarter reports and we are trying to discern whether or not that continues, he said.

Right now the market is still in a pronounced uptrend so we are not taking any chips off the table yet, but we are identifying positions that we think are most vulnerable.

Chipmaker Altera Corp is due to release first-quarter earnings after forecasting weak revenue on soft demand, underscoring a shaky rebound in the semiconductor industry.

Apple Inc launched the newest version of its popular iPad tablet computer, which it hopes will keep rivals at bay.

General Motors Co's chief executive said it may be two years before its European division is making a profit as it sheds overcapacity.

A strong geomagnetic storm is racing from the sun toward Earth, and its expected arrival on Thursday could affect power grids, airplane routes and space-based satellite navigation systems, space weather experts said.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)