(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures edged higher on Thursday ahead of data on the jobs market and producer prices, while a rise in Italian borrowing costs could cap gains in equities and pressure other risk assets lower.
S&P 500 futures hit a session high just below their 50-day moving average, a level that also provided resistance Wednesday in the cash market and could become a key technical hurdle.
U.S. Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday the Fed has a variety of options if it decides to seek another round of asset purchases. Yellen said easy monetary policy is appropriate given high unemployment and the headwinds facing the economy as she left the door open to further action.
Data expected to have market implications include the U.S. Labor Department's weekly release of applications for unemployment insurance, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 355,000 new filings compared with 357,000 in the prior week.
The March Producer Price Index will also be released at 8:30 a.m. Economists forecast a 0.3 percent rise compared with a 0.4 percent rise in February.
Italian three-year borrowing costs jumped more than 1 percentage point at a bond auction compared to a month ago, the latest sign markets are unconvinced that Europe is on top of its debt problems.
Energy sector shares will be in focus after Royal Dutch Shell sent a spill response vessel to a platform in the central Gulf of Mexico. Shell's shares traded in London fell more than 4 percent.
Google is due to report earnings after the closing bell. The options market is expecting calm in shares of the Internet search giant after the results.
The U.S. government sued Apple and five publishers saying they conspired to fix the prices of electronic books, and reached a settlement with three of the publishers that could lead to cheaper e-books for consumers.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks rose after five days of declines on the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials. An encouraging start to the earnings season contributed to the rebound, but the S&P 500 was unable to rise back above its 50-day moving average.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 89.46 points, or 0.70 percent, to 12,805.39 at the close. The S&P 500 Index <.SPX> gained 10.12 points, or 0.74 percent, to 1,368.71. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> advanced 25.24 points, or 0.84 percent, to 3,016.46.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos)