Stock index futures were slightly higher on Thursday, following a selloff in the previous session as Italian bond yields fell and investors awaited a new spate of data.
Italian yields fell from recent record highs at the short-term debt auction, but yields for 10-year paper remained near 7 percent, a level near where other euro zone governments have been forced to seek bailouts.
Concerns over the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, which had receded recently, resurfaced Wednesday, sparking a 1 percent decline in major indexes. S&P 500 gains for the year were erased and the index pulled back below its 200-day moving average.
The selloff followed the euro's slide to an 11-month low against the U.S. dollar, prompted by worries over the debt crisis. On Thursday, the euro sank to its lowest since September 2010 against the dollar while the European Central Bank moved to support Italian bond markets.
It's encouraging to see that yields have come in a bit, but it isn't indicative of a complete easing of the crisis in Europe, said David Katz, principal in charge of Weiser Capital Management's asset management division in New York.
In a normal environment this would be having a bigger impact, but with volume so low I don't expect a lot to happen (in equity markets) until the end of the year.
Investors looked ahead to jobless claims data, due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), which are seen rising to 375,000 from 364,000 in the previous week.
In addition, Chicago PMI data for December will come at 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT) and is seen dropping to 61.0 from 62.6 in the previous month, while November pending home sales are seen rising 2 percent, a smaller increase than October's. The housing data is scheduled for release at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
Recent economic data, including reports on the housing market, have been largely positive, contributing to Wall Street gains over the past month and the view that economic growth is picking up steam.
From a domestic perspective, things are looking much better, but there may not be enough participation in the market for us to really move on the data.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.8 points and were above 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 added 27 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 6.5 points.
Before Wednesday's selloff, the S&P had risen for five straight sessions, and some traders saw the index as overbought. Many investors were not expected to make large bets until after the New Year, and trading volume has been low because of the holidays.
Fertilizer producer Mosaic Co
Standard & Poor's placed Sears Holdings Corp's
U.S. stocks fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday putting the brakes on a hefty year-end rally.
(Reporting By Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)