U.S. stock index futures traded flat on Thursday, coming off a broad rally in the previous session, as investors looked ahead to labor market data and results from Intel, the first major technology company to report earnings.
A pair of bond auctions in Europe went smoothly, helping to further ease concerns over the region's sovereign debt issues that have weighed on investors.
Initial jobless claims are expected to decline to 405,000 in the latest week from 409,000. The number is the first read on the labor market since Friday's surprisingly weak payrolls report.
The November international trade deficit is seen widening to $40.5 billion from $38.71 billion in October. Both the jobless claims and trade data will be released at 8:30 a.m.
A little flatness in the futures is to be expected this morning, coming off of yesterday's move, said Christian Wagner, chief executive at Longview Capital Management in Wilmington, Delaware. Since we've had such a strong run lately, the fear is that we have less room to continue higher from here, Wagner said.
Intel Corp results are due after the market close, with Wall Street analysts expecting an 8 percent rise in revenue for the final quarter of 2010 over the year-ago period.
S&P 500 futures rose 1 point 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 were down 13 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2 points.
Equities have advanced since the start of December in part on hopes that earnings would be strong, though in recent sessions renewed fears over a European sovereign debt crisis partially obscured some strong early results, including from Alcoa Inc .
Spain followed Portugal with a successful debt sale on Thursday, and investors showed growing confidence that governments would agree to new measures to stem the debt crisis. A separate sale of Italian bonds also attracted strong demand.
JPMorgan started coverage on the telecommunications services sector with a favorable view, pointing to strong cash flow, stable business trends and potential improvements as the economy rebounds. The firm rated AT&T Inc at overweight and Verizon Communications Inc at neutral.
Williams-Sonoma Inc raised its fourth-quarter outlook after a strong holiday season as margins improved. The shares rose 1 percent in premarket trade.