Futures on major U.S. stock indices extended earlier gains on Wednesday after the Department of Labor reported that weekly jobless claims fell sharply last week to the lowest level since July 2008.

Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.80 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.67 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.80 percent.

The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims decreased by 34,000 to 407,000 for the week ended Nov 20 from the previous week's revised figure of 441,000, while economists expected 434,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims declined 7,500 to 436,000 from the previous week's revised average of 443,500.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in October declined by 3.3 percent, the largest decline since January 2009, to a seasonally adjusted $196 billion. Excluding transportation, orders decreased 2.7 percent and excluding defense orders decreased 2.1 percent.

After the opening bell, the commerce department is due to release September new home sales report at 10:00 am EDT. Economists have forecast sales of new single-family houses to be 312,000 for October against 307,000 in the previous month.

On the corporate front, Oracle Corp. shares will be in focus after a jury said rival SAP AG must pay $1.3 billion to Oracle for copyright infringement.

On Tuesday, US stocks tumbled on heightened geopolitical tensions in Korea and rising fears about the spread of euro zone debt crisis. Minutes from the last FOMC meeting which revealed disagreements among policymakers over the efficacy of the second round of quantitative easing did not help market sentiment either.

The euro advanced 0.08 percent to 1.3378 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.30 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures rose 0.53 percent to $81.68/barrel and gold futures declined 0.36 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 45.13 points, DAX30 up by 91.11 points and CAC 40 up by 15.33 points.