Futures pointing higher after previous day’s rout

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rebounded after a triple-digit sell-off on the Dow as the central bank in Europe cut interest rates again Thursday and the U.S. deficit with China hit a three-year low.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week also fell to the lowest point since January 2008.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 72 points to 14,708. S&P futures added 7.9 points to 1,585.20. Nasdaq futures added 16.75 points to 2,880.25.

General Motors topped Wall Street expectations for the first quarter, even while the carmaker struggled with losses in Europe, where unemployment has reached the highest levels since the launch of the euro in 1999.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 18,000, to a seasonally adjusted 324,000. That’s the second time applications have dropped sharply in as many weeks.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, plummeted 16,000 to 342,250.

The U.S. trade deficit, driven by falling crude imports, fell in March for the second consecutive month, the Commerce Department said.

The 11 percent decline, to $38.8 billion, comes even as U.S. exports slipped.

Economists believe the deficit will narrow this year as U.S. exports pick up.

The interest-rate cut in Europe was widely expected given the economic climate there, with new strains becoming apparent even in Germany, the continent’s economic powerhouse.

Still, markets had been subdued in early trading until the European Central Bank confirmed that it would lower the refinancing rate a quarter-point to 0.5 percent.

After strong showing from Facebook and Yelp late Wednesday, shares of LinkedIn, which posts earnings after the closing bell, rose before the opening bell.

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