Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday after earnings from companies like Apple Inc and Hershey Co suggested some businesses weathered the recession in the first quarter.

Raytheon Co also boosted sentiment after the maker of Patriot missile defense systems and other military electronics reported higher profit and boosted its full-year sales forecast, sending its shares up 4.8 percent at $43.30 before the bell. Investors are keen to see guidance from companies to get a sense of the depth and longevity of the downturn.

Investors also awaited data on existing home sales for March and initial jobless claims. The report on the labor market is expected to show initial claims at 635,000, according to Reuters data.

Apple was set to boost technology shares after it posted results after Wednesday's close that topped expectations on strong sales of its popular iPhones and iPods. The shares were up 3.3 percent at $125.55 in early electronic trading.

EBay Inc could also boost the sector after it beat Wall Street expectations on earnings and revenue late Wednesday on cost cuts and growth at its Skype telephone and PayPal payments divisions. EBay jumped 6.4 percent at $15.75.

There's only been small patches of positive guidance, mostly on the part of companies who are strong enough to have weathered this current weak demand, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

The Apple news yesterday and some of the other earnings reports in tech were taken as a reasonably positive sign.

S&P 500 futures rose 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 climbed 53 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 17.50 points.

Among the standouts in the early morning round of results, shares of Hershey rose 3.3 percent to $37.25 after the chocolate maker reported results that beat expectations amid price increases and market share gains.

PNC Financial Services Group
posted a rise in profit as it was helped by the acquisition of National City Corp and cost cuts. Its shares rose 5.8 percent to $40.25.

In the auto sector, the U.S. Treasury raised its offer to Chrysler lenders, sources said Wednesday, as the embattled automaker races to cut its debt and labor costs and reach an alliance with Italy's Fiat SpA by the end of the month.

Also, auto dealer representatives will meet with the U.S. government task force faced with retooling the auto industry to make the case that a bankruptcy for General Motors Corp should not be an option.

The Dow and S&P fell Wednesday after Morgan Stanley revived concerns about the banking sector and the wider economy after it posted its second straight quarterly loss and slashed its dividend.

The Nasdaq eked out a gain after AT&T Inc reported its quarterly profit fell less than expected, and an analyst said its iPhone partnership with Apple is starting to help rather than hurt profits, lifting tech shares.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr)