Investing.com - U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday, as investors eyed the release of U.S. jobless claims data later in the day, following positive remarks by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.
Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.33% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.28% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.28 gain% slip.
Wednesday's minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting showed that the bank cited a stronger labor market in its decision to cut its asset purchase program by USD10 billion, reducing it to USD75 billion-a-month.
The minutes also showed that officials were keen to stress that further reductions were not on a "preset course" and would be undertaken in "measured" steps.
The minutes came after a report showing that the U.S. private sector added the largest number of jobs since November 2012 last month. ADP nonfarm payrolls rose by 238,000 in December, easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 200,000.
Alcoa, up 0.83% in pre-market trade, was expected to be in focus as the aluminum producer was set to kick-off fourth-quarter earnings season later in the day.
Costco shares dipped 0.04% in extended trading after the U.S.'s second largest retailer reported December sales that beat expectations, thanks to online successes in the U.S. and Canada.
In the pharmaceutical sector, Novartis was said to be in talks with Merck & Co. to trade its animal-health and human vaccines businesses for the U.S. drugmaker's over-the-counter health-products unit.
Elsewhere, Apple added 0.19% pre-market after the tech giant and its Korean rival Samsung Electronics reportedly agreed to attend a mediation session to be held on or before February 19, as they prepare to battle in court in March over smartphone patents.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included Acuity Brands and Supervalue, scheduled to report quarterly results later Thursday.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 advanced 0.87%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.36%, Germany's DAX climbed 0.45%, while Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.33%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.91%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.50%.
Later in the day, the U.S. Labor Department was to release its weekly report on initial jobless claims.
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