U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Thursday ahead of the publication of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data, Bureau of Economic Analysis' trade balance report and another round of quarterly earnings reports by major corporations.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.20 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.34 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.32 percent.

The Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, before the opening bell on Thursday. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 345,000 for the week ending Apr. 27, up from 339,000 in the previous week.

In addition, Continuing Jobless Claims Data that measures the number of unemployed individuals who qualify for benefits under unemployment insurance will be released before the opening bell and the economists predict the continuing jobless claims to be 3028,000 up from 3000,000 registered in the previous week.   

Investors are also expected to focus on the trade deficit to be reported on Thursday. The trade deficit, which measures the difference in value between imported and exported goods and services in the reported period, is expected to decline to $42 billion in April from $43 billion in March.

Also, investors are likely to continue to focus on earnings reports on Thursday, with Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE:CAH), CIGNA Corp. (NYSE:CI), CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CME), CenterPoint Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNP), Denbury Resources Inc. (NYSE: DNR), Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL), International Paper Company (NYSE: IP), Kellogg Co. (NYSE:K), Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (NYSE: MMC), PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), American International Group Inc., Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) and Xcel Energy Inc (NYSE: XEL), among others, are expected to announce their quarterly results on Thursday.

U.S. stock markets closed down on Wednesday as the markets witnessed a sell-off on the first day of the month, following disappointing economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.94 percent, the S&P 500 Index dropped 0.93 percent to close at 1,582.70, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell by 0.89 percent.

The ADP National Employment Report, a measure of the monthly change in non-farm, private employment, released on Wednesday before the bell by Automatic Data Processing (ADP) fell sharply to 119,000 from 131,000 recorded in the previous month and much below the economists’ estimate of 150,000.

European stocks declined in the opening minutes of trade as investors remain concerned about global growth outlook ahead of the European Central Bank policy meeting.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, while France's CAC-40 slid 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX-30 shed 0.1 percent. 

Many economists expect that the ECB will cut benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points to 0.5 percent – first time since July 2012 – to boost growth in the euro zone.  

Asian markets were in the red as investor concerns about the health of the global economy mounted after weak data from the U.S. and China.

HSBC revised down China's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for April to 50.4 from a preliminary reading of 50.5, confirming a sharp slowdown in the expansion of the country’s manufacturing sector.

The Nikkei closed down 0.76 percent at 13,694.04, while South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.34 percent to 1,957.21. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.3 percent to 22,668.3 towards close. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.17 percent to 2,174.12.