Stock index futures pointed to a higher opening on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.22 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.26 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.08 percent at 4:45 a.m. EDT.

* Cisco Systems Inc will be in the spotlight after Chief Executive John Chambers said business conditions were improving for the world's largest network equipment manufacturer though it was too soon to call a recovery.

Cisco's revenue outlook was mostly in line with Wall Street's expectations and profit for the July quarter exceeded forecasts. But the CEO's cautious remarks disappointed those who sought a stronger declaration that global technology spending was on the mend.

Cisco shares traded in Frankfurt were down 3.1 percent.

* Oil eased on Thursday and hovered close to $71.50, paring gains of nearly 1 percent in the previous session that came after U.S. government data showed a surprise decline in distillate supplies.

* The dollar held near a nine-month low against the pound on Thursday before a policy decision by the Bank of England, while the euro was steady against the dollar ahead of an interest rate decision by the European Central Bank.

* European shares were up 1.1 percent in morning trade, ahead of rate and policy announcements from the BoE and ECB, and with investors digesting another batch of corporate earnings.

* The U.S. consumer goods sector will be in focus after Unilever , the maker of Knorr soup and Dove soap, beat consensus forecasts with a 4.1 percent rise in second-quarter underlying sales and said it was encouraged by a 2 percent rise in volumes, with all regions seeing growth, sending its shares up 4.9 percent.

* A U.S. federal judge has refused to approve Monday's settlement between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Bank of America Corp related to the acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co.

* Activision Blizzard Inc offered a disappointing quarterly forecast and cut its 2009 revenue outlook with two major games delayed till 2010, but its shares were little changed after the bell as profit turned out better than expected.

* Costco Wholesale Corp on Thursday reported a bigger-than-expected 7 percent fall in July same-store sales hurt mainly by a strong U.S. dollar. The retailer's shares traded in Frankfurt were down 0.9 percent.

* Corporate quarterly results on tap for Thursday include El Paso Corp , CBS Corp and Comcast Corp , while on the macro front, data expected on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims and monthly chain store sales for July.

* U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday after weak data on the services sector and private payrolls dampened recent hopes that the recession was abating.

* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 39.22 points, or 0.42 percent, to 9,280.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 2.93 points, or 0.29 percent, to 1,002.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 18.26 points, or 0.91 percent, to 1,993.05.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by John Stonestreet)