Stock index futures pointed to a rise of about 2 percent at the open on Thursday after China denied a report it was reviewing its holdings in euro-zone sovereign bonds due to the region's debt crisis.
The People's Bank of China said a Financial Times report that Beijing was concerned about its euro-zone exposure was groundless. The FT report cut short a rally in the last session and pushed indexes into the red as investors remained nervous after recent heavy losses.
The comments from China helped ease a lot of the tensions over Europe, said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago. Some people were considering the destruction of the euro almost imminent. At least from China's comments, it doesn't seem like they're overly concerned about it.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said he did not expect contagion from Europe's fiscal problems to reach the United States, adding that the world's biggest economy may actually benefit from a flight to safety.
In the latest U.S. economic data, first-quarter gross domestic product grew at a slower pace than previously estimated, while weekly jobless claims fell, suggesting the battered labor market is recovering but only slowly. The data was not enough to deter investors looking for bargains after market declines of more than 10 percent over the last month.
S&P 500 futures jumped 23.1 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 rose 161 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures put on 37.50 points.
In a familiar pattern seen in recent rebounds, financial and natural resource shares, among the casualties in the sell-off, rose in premarket trade. Citigroup Inc was up 3.9 percent to $4.01, while United States Steel Corp added 3.1 percent to $46.50.
In earnings news, H.J. Heinz Co posted higher quarterly profit, but also said annual earnings would be hit by currency fluctuations. The shares rose 1.7 percent to $45.
Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp and close-out retailer Big Lots Inc both recorded higher quarterly profit. Costco shares rose 2.9 percent to $57.60, while Big Lots rose 3.2 percent to $37.
NetApp Inc rose nearly 8 percent to $35 after the company's earnings topped estimates and it issued a strong outlook. At least four brokerages raised their price target on the stock.
Shares of Pfizer Inc rose 1.6 percent to $15.35 after the drugmaker said it was halting recruitment of patients for a heart failure clinical study involving its drug Inspra because the study reached its main efficacy goal early.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)