NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were headed for a positive open Thursday, the last day of a wretched month that saw Treasury yields in the U.S. fall to record lows, while Spain and Greece kept contagion worries front and center.
Investors kept markets higher despite modestly disappointing reports on U.S. initial jobless claims and manufacturing, which cast a cloud over hopes that the domestic economy is improving.
A report on private sector hiring from payroll services firm ADP showed a gain of 133,000 jobs, less than the 157,000 gain forecast by economists. Additionally, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose 10,000 to 383,000 in the latest week, which was higher than the expected 368,000 forecast by analysts.
Meanwhile, gross domestic product for first quarter was revised lower to 1.9%.
The Dow Jones industrial average (), S&P 500 ( ) and Nasdaq ( ) futures were all up about an hour before the open, although stocks slipped from earlier levels after the ADP report. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Germany's unemployment figures along with a decline in eurozone inflation helped lift sentiment in overseas markets. Germany reported an adjusted unemployment rate at a two-decade low of 6.7%.
"Any good news coming out of Europe is a positive, so the slightly better than expected German unemployment can give the markets a lift," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.
Kelly also believes the markets have become oversold in May, as the major indexes in both the United States and Europe are down between 6% and 7% for the month heading into the last trading day. Kelly said that any sell-off can open the way for moves higher on relatively modest nuggets of good news.
Later Thursday, voters in Ireland are expected to approve more stringent budget rules in a referendum. The struggling country could lose access to additional bailout funds if voters reject the fiscal treaty, so a positive vote could reassure investors. Markets have been nervous that Greek voters could reject austerity measures and force that country out of the eurozone.
U.S. stocks also fell sharply Wednesday on heightened concerns about Europe's debt crisis.
Investors are still worried about Spain not being able to fund bank bailouts that could reach as much as €100 billion. Yields on 10-year Spanish debt soared to 6.6% Wednesday, but retreated slightly in Thursday morning trading..
CNNMoney's Fear & Greed Index, which measures investor sentiment, remained firmly in "extreme fear" territory where it has been for more than two weeks.
World Markets: European stocks were all higher in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 ( ) rose 0.7%, the DAX ( ) in Germany edged up 0.3%, while and France's CAC 40 ( ) added 0.6%.
In Asia, major indexes closed slightly in the red after recovering from earlier steep losses. The Shanghai Composite () shed 0.5%, the Hang Seng ( ) in Hong Kong lost 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei ( ) closed 1.1% lower.
Economy: The latest batch of jobs reports comes before the government's closely-watched monthly jobs report, which is due Friday. Analysts surveyed by CNNMoney expect that the U.S. economy added 150,000 jobs in May, including 12,000 government cuts. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 8.1%.
The Chicago Purchasing Manager Index, which tracks manufacturing activity in much of the Midwest, is expected to come in at 57 for May, up from 56.2 in the month prior. The report is seen an indicator of what will happen with the national reading on manufacturing from the Institute of Supply Management, due on Friday.
Foreclosures accounted for for 26% of home sales during the first three months of the year, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac.
Companies: Shares of Joy Global ( ) fell nearly 1.5% in premarket trading, after the mining equipment maker easily beat forecasts but lowered its guidance.
Networking equipment maker Ciena Corp. () reported earnings that blew past analysts' estimates and issued a forecast in line with expectations, lifting shares 5.6% in premarket trading.
Shares of TiVo () fell 5.7% in premarket trading after the DVR maker reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss after the bell Wednesday.
Lions Gate Entertainment () fell 3.5% in premarket trading after the film studio reported a net loss for the quarter late Wednesday, citing acquisition costs.
Shares of Facebook (briefly slipping below $28 Wednesday.) edged higher in premarket trading after
Oil for July delivery rose 11 cents to $87.93 a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery slipped $1.40 to $1,562.00 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.61% from Wednesday's record low close of 1.62%.
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