The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open Thursday ahead of the Department of Labor's weekly jobless claims data and the Census Bureau’s new home sales data.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.05 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.10 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.02 percent. 

Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported Thursday. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to rise to 360,000 in the week ending Dec. 22, down from 361,000 the previous week.

Investors are also expected to focus on the new home sales data for November to be reported Thursday. New home sales, measuring the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month, are expected to rise to 378,000 from 368,000 in October.

On Wednesday, the U.S. stocks fell as investor confidence continued to remain negative amid reports that the Congress leaders were not reaching an agreement to finalize on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, according to the data released Wednesday by Standard & Poor's, the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, which measures the change in the selling price of single-family homes in 20 metropolitan areas, rose more than expected. It rose 4.3 percent in October compared to the same month last year, from 3 percent in September and above the analysts’ expectation of 4 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.19 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.48 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.74 percent.

European stocks were mixed Thursday as investors remained cautious with markets opening after the Christmas holidays. London's FTSE 100 was down 8.66 points, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 14.28 points and France's CAC 40 gained 6.52 points.

Asian markets rose Thursday as investor sentiment was lifted by the hope that the policymakers in Japan would soon announce more stimulus measures to revive the country’s economic growth momentum. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 86.72 points, South Korea’s Kospi Composite rose 5.10 points and Japan’s NIkkei was up 92.62 points.