Stock index futures pointed to a higher opening on Wall Street on Thursday and extending the previous sharp rally, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.51 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.38 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.4 percent at 0742 GMT.

European stocks surged 1.8 percent in morning trade to reach a two-week high in the wake of Wall Street's hefty rally, as investors' confidence in the pace of the global economic recovery improved after strong U.S. data and President Barack Obama said that he believed the monthly jobs report, due on Friday, would show strong growth in U.S. payrolls.

Japan's Nikkei average surged over 3 percent to a two-week high on Thursday, posting its biggest one day percentage gain in six months, with foreign investors tentatively re-entering the market and technical signs turning brighter. <.T>

Oil advanced for a second day on Thursday to top $74 as robust U.S. economic indicators re-injected some confidence into financial markets and signaled oil inventories in the world's top consumer may shrink.

On the macro front, investors awaited the monthly ADP employment report, due at 1215 GMT, the weekly jobless claims, at 1230 GMT, and the factory orders for April as well as the U.S. ISM non-manufacturing index, both due at 1400 GMT.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he has no date in mind to take the Internet social networking company public, and defended changes to the service that have provoked privacy concerns.

U.S. oil and natural gas company Noble Energy Inc said on Wednesday it had agreed to sell certain non-core assets for about $550 million and projected annual production growth of 10 percent over the next five years.

Robot submarines made halting progress in BP's latest bid to siphon off oil belching from its ruptured wellhead, but tar balls and other debris from the spill posed new threats to the region's shoreline.

Texas Instruments , ARM and four other technology firms said on Thursday they have formed a joint venture to boost investments in the development and roll-out of devices using open source Linux software.

General Electric and Japanese trading house Itochu Corp <8001.T> have agreed to cooperate on investment in large wind and other renewable energy projects, Itochu said, boosting Itochu's share price by nearly 5 percent.

On Wednesday the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 225.52 points, or 2.25 percent, to 10,249.54. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 27.67 points, or 2.58 percent, to 1,098.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 58.74 points, or 2.64 percent, to 2,281.07.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Greg Mahlich)