U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open for equities on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 rising 0.5 to 0.7 percent.

The Labor department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended April 14 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast a total of 370,000 new filings, compared with 380,000 in the prior week.

On the earnings front, focus will be on the first quarter earnings of Bank of America , the second-largest U.S. bank. Wall Street has priced in a profit of 12 cents per share, down from 17 cents in the same period one year ago.

Other major companies announcing results include Morgan Stanley , Microsoft , Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold , Verizon and DuPont.

The Conference Board releases its report on March leading economic indicators at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast a 0.2 percent rise, compared with a 0.7 percent gain in February.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases existing home sales for March at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast a 4.62 million annualized unit total, versus 4.59 million units in February.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases April business activity survey at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast a reading of 12.0, versus 12.5 in March.

China's economy has weathered the worst after reporting its slowest quarterly growth since the tail-end of the financial crisis in the first three months of 2012, and is heading for a rebound in coming months, a Reuters poll showed.

U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and Russia's Rosneft unveiled an offshore exploration partnership on Wednesday that could invest upward of $500 billion in developing Russia's vast energy reserves in the Arctic and Black Sea.

EBay Inc said quarterly sales and profit grew more than expected and raised its 2012 forecasts, citing growth in the e-commerce company's Marketplaces and PayPal businesses.

Marriott International Inc reported a higher quarterly profit late on Wednesday as corporate business strengthened, and the hotelier raised its forecast for a key revenue metric, sending its shares up in extended trading.

Europe's top shares <.FTEU3> rose 0.6 percent on Thursday as Spain prepared to test investors appetite for risk at its bond auction.

Spain will pay dearly for longer-term debt on Thursday when it auctions a 10-year bond for only the second time this year to markets spooked by fears it will miss deficit targets and fail to restart growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 82.79 points, or 0.63 percent, to close at 13,032.75 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 5.64 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,385.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slipped 11.37 points, or 0.37 percent, to 3,031.45.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)