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US futures up as jobless claims fall, hiring gains

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2012 file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock prices closed mixed on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, held in check by a warning from the huge package delivery company FedEx that its profits would be hurt because of a slowdown in the global economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock market futures rose Thursday, boosted by a better-than-expected report on unemployment claims and a strong report from a private payroll company on hiring.

Traders also took a cue from world markets, which gained as the European Central Bank said it will take action to ease Europe's debt crisis.

Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 57 at 13,107. Standard & Poor's 500 futures added 6.9 to 1,410.40. Nasdaq 100 futures gained 11.75 to 2,779.25.

In a hopeful sign that the job market may be improving, the Labor Department said that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week to 365,000.

Weekly applications reflect the pace of layoffs, and a figure below 375,000 suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The figure won't affect the August jobs report, due out Friday, but could be a sign of a hiring uptick for September.

The government data was released shortly after a report from payroll processor ADP, which said businesses added 201,000 jobs last month, the most reported by the survey since March.

Unemployment is sure to be one of the topics that President Barack Obama addresses during his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night.

In Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi unveiled a much-awaited program to buy the government bonds of countries in the 17-member eurozone to help bring down their borrowing rates. Anticipation of the announcement had boosted world markets ahead of Draghi's remarks, and they remained elevated after the announcement.

Germany's DAX was up 1 percent. France's CAC-40 rose 0.98 percent. Britain's FTSE added 0.57 percent.

Earlier, major Asian markets posted modest gains after a choppy trading day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed marginally higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 percent. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7 percent.

Stocks to watch include Amazon Inc., which is expected to unveil a new Kindle Fire at an event in California Thursday. Amazon share added $1.43 to $247.65 in premarket trading. Supervalu Inc., the grocery chain disclosed plans to close 60 stores as part of its turnaround effort. The stock gained 7 cents, or 3 percent, to $2.35 in premarket trading.

And bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc., or AIG, said it will sell a $2 billion stake in its Asian insurance business to raise funds to help pay off U.S. government loans. Shares dipped 71 cents, or 2 percent, to $34.10 in premarket trading.