U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday, threatening a fourth straight positive session, as FedEx Corp reported in-line quarterly profits and investors awaited key data on the labor and housing markets.
The Labor Department is to release weekly first-time claims for jobless benefits, with economists in a Reuters survey forecasting a total of 555,000 new filings, compared with 550,000 in the prior week.
The Commerce Department is to detail housing starts and permits for August at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists look for an annualized rate of 600,000, compared 581,000 in July. A rate of 580,000 permits are expected versus 564,000.
You've got a lot of data coming out that is going to be important before the market opens that is going to change the shape of this thing, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
The market has been moving higher on all these better than-expected numbers. The question is where do we stop.
S&P 500 futures off 0.5 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 added 20 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.5 points.
Discover Financial Services
European shares rose on Thursday, extending the previous session's sharp gains on renewed hopes of a global economic recovery.
Asian stocks hit their highest level in 13 months on Thursday on signs the recovery could be strengthening, while the dollar slid to a fresh one-year low as investor optimism eroded its safe-haven appeal.
Other U.S. economic data will include the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank business activity survey for September at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). Economists forecast a reading of 8.0 versus 4.2 in August.
U.S. stocks rose for a third day on Wednesday, hitting fresh 2009 highs in a broad-based rally after data suggested a stronger-than-anticipated recovery.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)