Investing.com - U.S. stock futures pointed to a moderately higher open on Thursday, as investors eyed the release of U.S. economic reports later in the day, although concerns over the political deadlock in Italy continued to weigh.
Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.11% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.18% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.19% increase.
Markets were jittery after the Italian election ended on Tuesday with no party or coalition in control of the Senate, raising the threat of a prolonged period of political instability and potentially reigniting the crisis in the euro zone.
Separately, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reiterated Wednesday that it is up to European governments to resolve the crisis in the region through economic reforms and restoring financial stability.
Retailers were expected to be active, after J.C. Penney on Wednesday reported its sharpest sales drop since announcing a grand transformation plan 13 months ago, sending shares in the company plunging 13.75% in pre-market trade.
Sears Holdings was also likely to be in focus, after the retailer posted a fourth-quarter loss that was larger than it forecast last month, as sales fell for the sixth consecutive year.
In addition, Liberty Media, which holds a large stake in Barnes & Noble, said it had the power to block a sale of Barnes & Nobles' retail stores and it is waiting to see whether the bookseller's chairman Leonard Riggio will make an offer.
Also in company news, Groupon revealed lae Wednesday that it began to take a smaller cut of revenue on daily deals during the holidays, sacrificing revenue and profits to attract and keep merchants.
The news sent shares in the company plummeting 24.45% in early trading.
Among pharmaceutical companies, generic drugmaker Mylan surged 2.38% pre-market, after saying it will buy a unit of India's Strides Arcolab for USD1.6 billion.
Other stocks in focus included business software provider Salesforce.com and clothes retailer Gap, expected to report results after the market close.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 advanced 0.43%, France's CAC 40 climbed 0.41%, Germany's DAX gained 0.79%, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.33%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rallied 1.96%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged 2.11%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release revised data on fourth quarter growth and the weekly report on initial jobless claims.
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