Stock index futures were slightly higher on Thursday as investors awaited data on jobs and housing and corporate earnings from bellwether FedEx for signs of improvement in the economy.

* Investors will also keep an eye on developments in the euro zone, as European Union leaders meet Thursday to try to agree on the next steps in tackling a debt crisis that threatens to spread to Portugal and Spain after consuming Greece and Ireland.

* European stocks failed to hold earlier gains and turned flat on concerns about the debt crisis, even after a successful Spanish bond auction, a day after Moody's warned it may cut the country's credit rating.

* Weekly U.S. jobless claims figures are due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), with investors looking for further signs of the labor market's health. Economists in a Reuters survey expected a reading of 420,000 for initial claims, down from 421,000 in prior week.

* U.S. housing starts data will also come 8:30 a.m. Economists look for overall construction to a 550,000 in November versus 519,000 in October.

* Aside from FedEx Corp , Oracle Corp will also report quarterly results.

* Trading was expected to be volatile due to expiring index and individual stock futures and options, known as quadruple witching, on Friday.

* S&P 500 futures were up 2.3 points and slightly 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 rose 19 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.75 points.

* U.S. stocks suffered a third straight late-day selloff on Wednesday, suggesting it may be difficult to chalk up further gains as the year comes to a close.

* BP Plc is expected to be in focus after the Obama administration sued the oil major and its partners over the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

* A deal that President Barack Obama struck with Republicans to extend tax cuts for nearly every working American and spur job growth moves to the House of Representatives for passage as early as Thursday.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)