Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday ahead of key U.S. durable good orders and new home sales data, while the market eyed General Motors as it slid closer to bankruptcy.

U.S. stocks dropped sharply on Wednesday as rising yields on U.S. government debt fueled concern that businesses and consumers would face higher borrowing costs, hampering an economic recovery.

Investors were bracing for monthly durable goods orders data and weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m., and new home sales data, set for 10 a.m.

Before the market opens we get the jobless claims and durable goods, which are going to be important, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

The concept that things weren't getting any worse took the market up to the level it is at now. Now we have to see some improvement -- that there is going to be an improvement in the third-quarter and fourth-quarter -- and we're not going into another stall here.

General Motors Corp fell 5.3 percent to $1.09 in premarket trade as the automaker moved closer to filing the largest bankruptcy ever for a U.S. industrial company after a crucial bond exchange proposal failed, while the fate of GM's European brand Opel remained uncertain after marathon talks with German officials ended without a deal.

The impact of GM's bankruptcy, is going to be critical, added Mendelsohn. This is a big unknown that really could have a major impact on the economy that I'm not sure the economy is really discounting properly at this point in time.

S&P 500 futures rose 1.20 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 3 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.25 points.

Dow component Procter & Gamble Co
shares fell 0.7 percent to $51.41 in premarket trade after the household procuts maker gave guidance for 2009 and 2010.

Auto parts maker Visteon and Metaldyne Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for their U.S. operations, becoming the latest casualties of the auto industry crisis.

U.S. front month crude prices held above $63 after OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna decided to leave the group's oil output untouched at 24.85 million barrels a day.

Costco Wholesale Corp slid 2.7 percent to $47.49 in premarket trade after the retailer reported third-quarter profit fell 29 percent, as shoppers stuck to buying basic such as food and medicine and curbed discretionary purchases of clothes and jewelry.

Also on the earnings front, ketchup maker H.J. Heinz reported a lower quarterly profit on Thursday as sales to restaurants fell in the recession.

The Wall Street Journal said Citigroup Inc is in early negotiations with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a probe into whether it misled investors by not properly disclosing the amount of troubled mortgage assets it held as the markets started to fall in 2007, citing people familiar with the matter.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 173.47 points, or 2.05 percent, to end at 8,300.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 17.27 points, or 1.90 percent, at 893.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 19.35 points, or 1.11 percent, at 1,731.08.

Since reaching a low in early March, the Dow has gained nearly 27 percent and the S&P 500 has risen more than 32 percent.