Stock index futures pointed to a stronger start for Wall Street. Futures for the Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all rose 0.6 percent by 0908 GMT.

European Union leaders will lay the foundations for a financial rescue for Greece at a summit on Thursday, but any support is likely to require major economic adjustments by Athens.

Chevron said it has been awarded the rights to develop a new Venezuelan energy project. The Chevron-led consortium will acquire a 40 percent interest in the Orinoco heavy oil belt project.

American International Group has made the long-awaited choice of underwriters for the public listing of its Asian life insurance unit.

Separately, AIG has launched a new system to determine how employees get incentive pay, a move that follows a public outcry over retention payments the bailed-out insurer made to some staff.

Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended February 6 at 8:30 a.m. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 465,000 new filings compared with 480,000 in the prior week.

Companies reporting results on Thursday include Viacom, PepsiCo, Marriott International, Philip Morris, McAfee and Expedia.

CME Group Inc will acquire 90 percent of the Dow Jones' namesake indexes business in a debt-funded joint venture that values the century-old business at $675 million.

News Corp has replaced the CEO of the social networking site MySpace less than a year after hiring him, and said a discussion of his priorities led both sides to agree to a parting.

European shares rose ahead of the EU summit, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.9 percent, while Asian shares outside of Japan advanced 1.4 percent, boosted by strong Australian jobs data. Japan was closed for a national holiday.

An EU government source said euro area finance ministers agreed their countries would take determined and coordinated action to help Greece drawing on IMF expertise but not the Fund's money.

Prudential Financial Inc, the No. 2 U.S. life insurer, posted weaker-than-expected quarterly results, with at least one analyst expressing disappointment with the income from its annuity business.

Telecommunications services provider Level 3 Communications Inc posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as firms put off network expansion.

President Barack Obama said he doesn't begrudge the chief executives of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs their bonuses but called their pay extraordinary.

Private equity firm Blackstone Group will reopen its office in Germany this fall, thereby gaining a foothold in Europe Union's biggest economy, the Wall Street Journal said.

U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday as worries over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's strategy after the economy recovers offset optimism about a possible rescue for debt-burdened Greece.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 20.26 points, or 0.20 percent, at 10,038.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.39 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,068.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.00 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,147.87.

(Reporting by Dominic Lau; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)