The U.S. stock index futures point to a flat open Friday ahead of the Census Bureau's durable goods orders data.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.04 percent, those on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were down 0.08 percent while the Nasdaq 100 index futures were flat.

Investors are expected to focus on the durable goods orders data to be reported Friday. Durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods including transportation items, are expected to increase 2.4 percent in July up from a rise of 1.6 percent in June. The core durable goods orders for July, which will exclude the transportation items, are expected to increase 0.5 percent, up from 1.1 percent decrease in June.

On Thursday, the U.S. markets fell as investor confidence was weighed down by disappointing indications that the economy was losing momentum. According to the Labor Department's report, the initial jobless claims rose to 372,000 in the week ending Aug. 18, up from 366,000 in the previous week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.88 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.81 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.66 percent.

Major European indices were in red due to investor concerns about the persisting weakened economic condition in the euro zone. According to reports, Spain was in talks with the euro zone leaders over conditions for support to bring down its interest rates. This dampened the market confidence since it was taken as an indication that Spain's economic condition was worsening. London's FTSE 100 was down 10.11 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index fell 4.67 points and France's CAC 40 declined 6.85 points.

Most Asian stocks fell as investor sentiment turned negative on concerns about the declining manufacturing activity in China. Market players feel that China's economy, which is the second largest in the world, is not bouncing back as widely expected.