U.S. stock index futures were lower on Thursday ahead of a report on weekly jobless claims and after data showed a jump in Chinese inflation.

The Labor Department releases the jobless claims data at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 460,000 new filings, compared with 469,000 in the prior week. For details, see

After Friday's jobs report, there are increased stakes for labor market data to be increasingly positive, said Andre Bakhos, president of Princeton Financial Group in North Brunswick, New Jersey.

There's some apprehension to commit before the number, because if it comes in weaker than expected it will cause a lot of nervousness.

Investors also fretted about the prospects of monetary tightening in top consumer China, where consumer inflation rose to a 16-month high in February.

S&P 500 futures fell 2.2 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 14 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.5 points.

BP Plc has agreed to buy Brazilian, Azeri and Gulf of Mexico fields from Devon Energy Corp for $7 billion. Devon shares up 2.3 percent to $73.35 in premarket trading.

Pall Corp
and National Semiconductor Corp are due to report quarterly results. The Commerce Department will also release January international trade figures, with economists expecting a $41.0 billion deficit, compared with a $40.18 billion deficit in December.

Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, at a conference on Thursday, is set to forecast returns of 1.25 percent a year or more on the bank's main assets within a few years, the Financial Times reported.

U.S. regulators are stepping up an investigation into Google Inc's plans to buy mobile advertising company AdMob, suggesting the government may challenge the $750 million deal, Bloomberg reported.

Microsoft Corp will put its Bing search and mapping services on Motorola Inc phones that use Google's Android operating system under a new deal.

Overseas, European shares were little changed, though bank stocks were lower on the Chinese inflation data.

Bank and technology shares lifted Wall Street on Wednesday on hopes that a revival in business demand will boost corporate profits.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)