Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, mirroring gains in Europe as well as Asia, where Shanghai stocks rebounded from a sharp two-week selloff, and on rallying commodity prices.

At 4 a.m. EDT, futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.48 percent, Dow Jones futures were up 0.45 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.36 percent.

The mining sector was in the spotlight after Rio Tinto , the world's second-largest miner, posted first-half underlying earnings down 54 percent, in line with market forecasts, as metals prices and demand collapsed.

But Rio said it was more confident about the future after cutting 16,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce, more than it targeted last December, cutting production at higher-cost operations and paying off nearly 40 percent of its debt.

Data storage equipment maker NetApp Inc will also be in focus after it reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street estimates. Its shares fell in extended trade as the company named a new chief executive and failed to forecast results for the current quarter.

China's benchmark stock index <.SSEC> jumped 4.5 percent on Thursday, led by oil firms, as signs of official support for the market helped trigger technical buying after a 20-percent dive in the two weeks up to Wednesday's close.

Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> climbed 1.8 percent to bounce off a three-week closing low, with investors encouraged by the rebound in Chinese shares and gains in resource shares after crude oil surged.

European stocks <.FTEU3> were up 1.3 percent in early trade, led shares of oil majors and banks, such as BP and Credit Suisse .

Oil was steady above $72 a barrel on Thursday, after rising more than 4 percent the previous day, buoyed by industry data showing a steep drop in crude imports and stockpiles in top consumer the United States.

The day's earnings calendar includes quarterly results from Gap Inc , HJ Heinz Co and Sears Holdings Corp , while on the macro front, investors will keep an eye on weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, leading indicators and Philadelphia Fed Survey, both at 10 a.m. EDT.

U.S. shares gained ground on Wednesday, shaking off an earlier drop in China's equity market, as investors responded favorably to a surprising fall in crude oil stockpiles that might suggest an improving demand outlook.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 61.22 points, or 0.66 percent, to end at 9,279.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 6.79 points, or 0.69 percent, to 996.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 13.32 points, or 0.68 percent, to 1,969.24.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Dan Lalor)