Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.3 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.2 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.2 percent.

Investors were bracing for data on weekly jobless claims as well as on trade data for October.

Tech shares will be in the spotlight after top contract chip maker TSMC <2330.TW> notched up solid November sales, selling more chips than a year ago, as its spending on new technology to boost capacity paid off.

Hershey Co and the trust that controls it are close to deciding whether to bid for rival candy maker Cadbury PLC , The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening, citing sources close to the matter.

Advanced Micro Devices expects gross margins to climb to above 45 percent in 2011 as it launches new products and modifies a manufacturing agreement, boosting its goal of becoming profitable again.

AMD shares traded in Frankfurt were up 1 percent.

Diversified U.S. manufacturer Pall Corp
resumed issuing full-year earnings outlooks on Wednesday with a forecast for the current year that could top analysts' expectations, and its shares rose 8.3 percent in after-hours trading.

Pall shares traded in Frankfurt
were up 3.4 percent.

Wireless tower firm American Tower Corp is expected to take a controlling stake in India's Essar Telecom Infrastructure in a deal valued at $350-$400 million, the Economic Times reported on Thursday.

General Electric Co said on Thursday it had received a contract worth $1.4 billion to provide equipment and service to a planned Oregon wind farm that aims to be the world's largest such facility.

U.S. foreclosure activity fell in November for the fourth month running, but improvement from July's record high came from loan modification programs that may fail to permanently remedy many failing mortgages, real estate data company RealyTrac said on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei average fell 1.4 percent on Thursday after a recent sharp rebound, as a stronger yen pressured shares of exporters, while European stocks were up 0.7 percent in morning trade, snapping a three-session losing streak, in a broad rally led by banking shares.

Oil hovered below $71 a barrel on Thursday, after falling more than 2 percent in the previous session following U.S. government inventory data highlighting the weak state of demand in the world's top energy consumer.

U.S. stocks ended higher on Wednesday as the dollar fell and investors' appetite for risk returned, lifting shares of financial, technology and natural resource companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> ended up 51.08 points, or 0.50 percent, to 10,337.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 3.95 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,095.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 10.74 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,183.73.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Rupert Winchester)