Stock index futures were higher on Thursday after better-than-expected quarterly profits from JPMorgan Chase & Co allayed concerns about the strength of the financial sector.

The Dow component said profit jumped to $1.09 a share from 28 cents a year earlier and its loan loss reserves declined by $1.5 billion, setting a high bar for big banks in the quarter.

The stock edged 0.6 percent higher to $40.59 in premarket trading, while Bank of America Corp , another Dow component, was up 0.8 percent at $15.80.

JPMorgan should give investors a reason to smile today, said Kim Caughey, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. The drop in loan loss reserves is especially nice to see and gives people who invest in the sector reason to be optimistic.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc , Google Inc and W.W. Grainger Inc are also scheduled to report later Thursday, returning investors' focus to corporate profits a day after economic concerns were raised anew by Chinese data and comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

S&P 500 futures rose 4.2 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 gained 22 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 7 points.

In deal news, NBTY Inc surged 44 percent to $54 in premarket trading after the nutritional supplements maker agreed to be bought by Carlyle Group for $3.8 billion, $55 per share. Inc fell 3.2 percent to $119.40 premarket after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to neutral from buy, saying growth at the online retailer was slipping.

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc rose 1.2 percent to $36.60 before the bell, even as the company faced further delays to a test on its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well that could staunch the massive oil spill.

U.S. producer prices are expected to have retreated slightly in June, but less severely than in May. Other data includes the New York Fed manufacturing index and weekly jobless claims, which analysts expect to drop modestly from the prior week but remain in elevated territory.

The government's financial reform bill is likely to clear a crucial hurdle in Congress on Thursday morning as the Senate votes to approve, paving the way for U.S. President Barack Obama to sign the measure into law.

China's economy cooled in the second quarter, a slowdown likely to extend over the rest of the year.

The S&P broke a six-day winning streak Wednesday, ending down less than one-tenth of a percent, while the Dow closed a fraction higher after the Fed's comments added to worries following weak retail sales data. The Nasdaq closed higher following strong quarterly results from Intel Corp.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)