Futures on major US indices point to a higher opening Thursday ahead of key weekly jobless claims and February trade balance reports from the government.

Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.26 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.27 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.33 percent.

The Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims data at 8:30 am EDT. The economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 355,000 for the week ending April 7 against 357,000 of the previous week. Any data that is weaker than expected will weigh on market sentiments.

The trade deficit in the US is expected to slightly retreat in February as exports are forecast to rise at a faster pace than imports. Economists are forecasting a trade deficit of $51.8 billion, down from $52.6 billion in the previous month.

On the corporate front, Google, Inc. shares will be in focus as the company is due to report first quarter earnings after the closing bell. Analysts' expect the company to report quarterly earnings per share of $9.65 compared to $8.08 in the same period last year.

On Wednesday, US stocks ended with gains as better-than-expected first quarter earnings from Alcoa lifted optimism about earnings season. The largest US aluminium producer was the first company to report earnings and it gives the first real indication of how major US companies performed at the start of 2012.

European stock markets are currently trading mixed with FTSE 100 down by 12.99 points and CAC 40 down by 14.03 points, while DAX30 up by 10.50 points.