Stock index futures fell on Thursday after manufacturing data in the euro zone and China increased worry about a slowing global economy.

The HSBC flash purchasing managers index showed China's manufacturing sector activity shrank in March for a fifth successive month while the March Markit's Eurozone Composite PMI showed further contraction, led by a decline in French and German factory activity.

The data greatly reduced hopes the euro zone could sidestep a recession while indicating China's economic slowdown has yet to wane.

European equity markets weakened for a fourth straight session, heading for their longest down run in four months as weak economic data reignited concerns about the strength of global demand while shares in Asia relinquished most of the earlier gains following the data. <.EU>

Germany and France have been the linchpins, keeping the broader euro zone out of recession and now they are starting to show weaker data - I understand that one data point does not necessarily make a trend - but it is something we are really going to have to watch, said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.

The pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> fell 1.2 percent to 1,079.22 and the euro shed 0.4 percent.

But the market has shrugged off sluggish starts to the session recently, building upward momentum to finish higher and domestic data expected Thursday could reverse the early tone.

Investors will look to U.S. data with weekly jobless claims due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), the home price index, due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT), as well as leading indicators, also due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) for signs the domestic economy continues to improve.

The market has been extraordinarily temperamental to headlines for about the past year - both positive and negative. So if we get both a good print on both the jobless claims and the data underneath that number, and a good print on the leading indicators you will see a pretty robust rally, said Bliss.

S&P 500 futures fell 8.5 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 71 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 14.25 points.

FedEx Corp dropped to $94.77, off 1.1 percent in premarket trading after the world's second-largest package delivery company reported a higher quarterly profit and forecast further advances in the current quarter.

Dollar General Corp advanced 1.1 percent to $45.25 in the premarket after the discount retailer posted higher holiday-quarter earnings and sales as more shoppers came in and spent more per visit.

ConAgra Foods Inc dipped 0.8 percent to $26.15 premarket after it reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by price increases, but stood by its full-year targets.

Discover Financial Services' slipped 1.1 percent to $31.30 in premarket trade after quarterly profit beat Wall Street expectations for the eighth straight quarter, as more Americans used its credit cards, and the company said it was speeding up its expansion into international markets.

McDonald's Corp's shed 0.6 percent to $96.14 after the world's biggest hamburger chain said chief executive Jim Skinner is retiring after more than seven years at the helm.

(Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)