U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday after six days of losses, but the mood remained fragile with many analysts expecting the S&P 500 to retest recent lows.
With investors focusing on labor market weakness after a lackluster jobs report for May, a reading on initial claims for jobless benefits later in the morning is likely to be a catalyst for markets.
The S&P 500 has fallen more than 6 percent from a high at the start of May as fears of an economic slowdown grow. The index took out support at its April lows and some analysts are expecting a retest of its March bottom at around 1,249, another 2.4 percent below Wednesday's close.
There has been almost a constant pattern of looking for a bottom here and not finding it by the time the day is over, and there is nothing to suggest today would be any different, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
Claims for jobless benefits are expected to fall in the latest week to 415,000 from 422,000 the week earlier, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.7 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 rose 42 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.75 points.
The S&P 500 is up just 1.7 percent for the year so far.
Texas Instruments Inc
Some overseas markets were weak. European shares <.FTEU3> inched lower in choppy morning trade, losing ground for the seventh session in a row ahead of the European Central Bank's post-policy meeting press conference. Japan's Nikkei <.NK225> posted a slight gain.
Brent crude oil was steady around $118 a barrel on Thursday after surging in the previous session as Saudi Arabia failed to convince OPEC members to raise output targets and data showed U.S. crude stocks fell sharply last week.
Diversified U.S. manufacturer Pall Corp
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)