Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.1 percent, Dow Jones futures flat and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.2 percent at 4:45 a.m. ET.

European shares were slightly higher on Thursday morning, renewing a six-month high as mining stocks rallied after Xstrata said it was in talks with Glencore over a merger that could create a combined mining and trading group worth more than 50 billion pounds ($79 billion).

Mining shares were also boosted by expectations China, the world's largest consumer of metals, would further ease monetary policy to stimulate its economy.

Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion in the biggest ever internet IPO, after which chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will retain almost complete control, leaving investors with little say.

JPMorgan Chase surprised Wall Street by winning a leading role in Facebook's public offering, besting other banks that have competed for months for the coveted position.

On the earnings front, Compass Group , the world's biggest caterer, said first-quarter sales rose more than 8 percent, as continued strength in North America and emerging markets offset weakness in Europe, putting it on track to achieve its full-year outlook.

Barry Diller's Internet holding company IAC/InterActive Corp posted better-than-expected quarterly profit, driven by strong results at its online search and dating businesses, sending its shares up as much as 11 percent to 52-week highs.

Dow Chemical, the largest U.S. chemical maker by revenue, reports results for the fourth quarter of 2011 on Thursday and aims to show Wall Street it is further diversifying its portfolio into specialty materials for the alternative energy, electronics and construction markets. Analysts see Dow posting earnings of 30 cents per share, down from 47 cents in the same quarter of 2010.

Other companies due to report results on Thursday include Kellogg, Mastercard, Merck & Co and Sara Lee.

Away from earnings, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has ordered an extensive review of how futures brokerages are regulated, following the collapse of MF Global three months ago, a CFTC official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Wall Street's own watchdog filed a complaint against Charles Schwab Corp on Wednesday accusing the online brokerage of requiring customers to waive their rights to pursue class actions against the firm, a violation of industry rules.

On the macroeconomic front, Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc releases its report on job cuts for January at 7:30 a.m. ET. Challenger reported 41,785 layoffs in the prior month.

Labor Dept releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended January 28 at 1330 GMT, which are expected to come in at 375,000 compared with 377,000 in the prior week.

Labor Dept also publishes preliminary Q4 Productivity and Unit Labor Costs at 1330 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast productivity to rise 0.8 percent versus a 2.3 percent rise in the final Q3 report. Unit Labor costs are expected to rise 0.8 percent compared with a 2.5 percent decrease in the final Q3 report.

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans meets for joint breakfast interview with four wire reporters at the Chicago Fed at 9 a.m. ET.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on the state of the U.S. economy before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

The Institute for Supply Management-New York releases January index of regional business activity. In December, the index read 534.0.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 83.55 points, or 0.66 percent, to 12,716.46 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 11.67 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,324.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 34.43 points, or 1.22 percent, to 2,848.27.

After the S&P 500 rose 4.4 percent last month, some strategists see the benchmark approaching a short-term top.

(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)