Concern over the debt troubles in Greece has dampened confidence, and equity markets have been sensitive to statements and reports of potential aid. European Union leaders were meeting to lay the foundations at a summit in Brussels for a financial bailout of Greece, in what would be the first rescue of a euro zone member since the currency was created 11 years ago.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters earlier that the aid for Greece was likely to come in the form of loans.
It will be a template for any of the other European countries with sovereign debt issues, said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group in Colonial Heights, Virginia.
U.S. Labor Department data showed the number of people filing for initial jobless benefits fell sharply last week, reversing a recent spike that had heightened worries about labor market weakness.
This is better than expected, but still only one number. I think it's part of a bottoming process, said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research.com in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.6 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 47 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 6.25 points.
Stocks dipped on Wednesday as worries over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments on U.S. monetary policy once the economy recovers offset optimism from the potential resolution of Greece's debt woes.
Highlighting the frailty of the labor market, U.S. President Barack Obama warned the country's recovery would not be complete until more people find work and the United States borrows less money.
American International Group has lined up major investment banks to underwrite the public listing of its Asian life insurance unit, banking sources said.
Ohio utility FirstEnergy Corp will buy Pennsylvania utility Allegheny Energy Inc in an all-stock deal worth $4.7 billion, the companies said. Allegheny jumped 11.8 percent to $23.50 in premarket trades, while FirstEnergy was down 4.1 percent at $39.75.
Marriott International Inc reported quarterly results that beat expectations on better-than-expected revenue and improved demand from corporate clients. The shares gained 1 percent premarket to $26.67.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy.)