US Futures Rise as Pfizer Buys Hospira For $17 Bln; Shrug Off Greek Concerns That Weigh on Europe

U.S. stock futures traded higher Thursday, helped by Pfizer’s ( PFE ) $ 17 billion deal to buy Hospira ( HSP ), even as the European Central Bank caused jitters overseas when it stopped accepting Greek bonds in return for providing emergency funding to Greek banks.

Greece dubbed the surprise move as “blackmail” to prevent the new government from implementing election promises to limit austerity measures and rehire public workers.

In economic data out Thursday, jobless claims in the week ended Jan. 31, out at 8:30 a.m. E.T. are expected to have risen to 290,000 from 265,000 the preceding week. The consensus range is between 280,000 and 310,000, according to data compiled by Econoday.

In other data, the U.S. international trade gap is expected to have narrowed to $ 37.9 billion in December from $ 39.0 billion in November. The consensus range is between a deficit between $ 40 billion and $ 35.5 billion.

Non-farm productivity is expected to have edged higher just 0.2% in Q4 from Q3 – when productivity was up 2.3%. The consensus range is between a decline of 1.5% and an increase of 1.0%.

In equities, Pfizer ( PFE ) rose nearly 3% after saying it will acquire Hospira ( HSP ), a provider of injectable drugs and infusion technologies for $ 90 per share or a total enterprise value of $ 17 billion. Pfizer said the deal should be immediately accretive to earnings and is expecting $ 800 million cost savings from the deal by 2018. HSP surged to $ 87.65 in recent trade, an all-time high if it holds in regular trading.

Meanwhile, fashion and accessories brand Michael Kors ( KORS ) dropped over 6%, having earlier flirted with a 52-week low, after providing a Q4 guidance for sales and earnings that was below analysts’ estimates.

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