Stock index futures turned flat on Thursday, giving up some gains after economic bellwether FedEx reported quarterly results that missed expectations.
Investors are awaiting jobs and housing data for further signs of improvement in the economy. 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 at 8:30 a.m. Economists look for overall construction up at 550,000 in November versus 519,000 in October.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 point and were in line with 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 6 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.75 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. The Dow hit a fresh 52-week high intraday at 11,519.04 but closed at 11,457.47.
Technically, the Dow enters today trading above potential short-term support at the 11,450 level, while resistance at the 11,500 level is still a major barrier to a continued rally. Look for the 11,350 level to provide a backstop if this morning's economic reports go south, said Joseph Hargett, analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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. A day after Moody's warned it may cut Spain's credit rating, the country had to pay a high premium at its final bond auction of the year in a key test of investor appetite for euro zone debt.
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 U.S. House of Representatives for passage as early as Thursday.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by)