Stock futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones rising 0.3 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.3 percent on news Steve Jobs had stepped down as Apple CEO.
Technology shares will be in focus after Jobs resigned and passed the reins to his right-hand man Tim Cook, saying he could no longer fulfill the duties.
Apple shares fell 7 percent in after-hours trade on Wednesday, while its stocks traded in Frankfurt were down 4.8 percent. Apple has the biggest effect on the Nasdaq 100's daily moves, as it accounted for more than 14 percent of the index at the end of trading on Wednesday, according to Reuters data.
The Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended August 20 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 405,000 new filings compared with 408,000 in the prior week.
AT&T said on Wednesday the Federal Communications Commission had requested more information about its acquisition of T-Mobile in relation to its commitment to expand high-speed wireless services to 97 percent of all Americans.
The Obama administration is working on proposals to prop up the weak U.S. housing market and may back a plan to refinance government-backed mortgages at today's lower interest rates, the New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the discussions.
Companies reporting results include Hormel Foods and Big Lots.
European shares rose 1 percent on Thursday, extending a rally into a fourth day as speculation grew that U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke would announce stimulus measures for the struggling U.S. economy on Friday. Japan's Nikkei average rose 1.5 percent.
Bernanke was due to address central bankers at an annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday. His speech last year laid the groundwork for the Fed's unprecedented $600 billion bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing or QE2, to revive a sputtering U.S. economy.
U.S. stocks rallied for a second day on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 143.95 points, or 1.29 percent, to end at 11,320.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumped 15.25 points, or 1.31 percent, to finish at 1,177.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 21.63 points, or 0.88 percent, to close at 2,467.69.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Dan Lalor)