U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher early Thursday ahead of initial jobless claims data.
Futures on the S&P 500 index were up 4.75 points at 1837.25 points while those on the Nasdaq index climbed 8.70 points to 3573.50 points.
On the economic calendar, the Labour Department's weekly jobless claims data will be released today at 8:30 a.m.
A private survey report by ADP released on Wednesday showed employment in the U.S. increased during December. The report stoked concerns that an improving labour market would prompt the central bank to wind down its stimulus program earlier than anticipated.
Other data slated for release Thursday includes Challenger Job Cuts data at 7:30 a.m., followed by monthly chain store sales report at 7:45 a.m., while the Bloomberg Consumer Confidence index will be out at 9:45 a.m.
Across global markets, Asian markets finished mostly lower -- the Nikkei slipped 1.5% while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.8%.
European markets were, however, slightly higher as investors awaited policy decisions by the ECB and the Bank of England.
In stock specific action, Macy's Inc. (M) bounced 5.2% in pre-market trades, after the retailer announced late Wednesday plans to axe 2,500 jobs and shut down five underperforming stores.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) , which reported fiscal third quarter results after markets closed Wednesday, slumped over 8% in extended-hours activity after the company lowered its full-year earnings outlook.
T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) could also see some active trading after the telecom carrier late Wednesday reported higher net customer base during the fourth quarter.