Equity index futures rose on Thursday after a sharp drop for stocks in the previous session as Wall Street headed for another session of volatility.

The increases came a day after worries about the French banking sector and a possible France credit downgrade sent the S&P 500 tumbling 4 percent and the Dow dropping 4.6 percent after fluctuating in a range of more than 400 points for a fifth straight day.

In a positive sign for technology shares, Cisco Systems Inc reported quarterly revenue and profit that topped scaled-back expectations late Wednesday. The Dow component advanced 12 percent to $15.37 in premarket trading.

Corporate earnings this season have generally been strong, with a majority of companies topping Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenues, but the results have been overshadowed by concerns about huge government debt loads on both sides of the Atlantic and the U.S. economic slowdown.

Investors awaited weekly jobless claims data, which are seen remaining unchanged at 400,000. June international trade deficit is expected to narrow to $48 billion from $50.23 billion. Both reports are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.7 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 added 26 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 14.25 points.

French banking shares fell sharply early Thursday, adding to a hefty selloff in the previous session on growing concerns about their outlook and briefly erasing early gains in European stocks. The European banking index <.SX7P> was down 0.7 percent, giving up earlier gains of nearly 4 percent.

Sara Lee Corp may update its planned separation when it reports quarterly earnings later Thursday. Also due are Brinker International Inc and department stores Nordstrom Inc and Kohl's Corp .

Worries about the strength of French lenders, including Societe Generale , triggered a selloff in European and U.S. banks on Wednesday and contributed to the sharp decline in broader equities.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)