U.S. stock index futures point to a higher opening Thursday with investors keeping a close watch on the European Central Bank meeting later in the day, which is expected to announce stimulus measures to revive the economic growth.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.21 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were up 0.15 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.12 percent.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which concluded Wednesday, declined to take any additional action though it acknowledged the evident slowdown in the U.S. economic growth. The FOMC said that the Fed would closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments and will provide additional accommodation as needed.
Meanwhile, hopes for additional stimulus measures at the ECB meeting have intensified among market players. Investors are hoping that the debt crisis faced by the euro zone will push the ECB to take these stimulus measures.
Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported by the Department of Labor 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 369,000 for the week ending July 28, up from 353,000 the previous week.
The Commerce Department's factory orders report will be released later Thursday. The report, which measures the change in the total value of new purchase orders placed with manufacturers each month, is expected to rise 0.5 percent in June, down from 0.7 percent increase in May. The report will also include a revision of the durable goods orders data released about a week earlier, as well as new data on non-durable goods orders.
On Wednesday, the U.S. markets fell as investors were disappointed to note that there were no announcements by the Fed on stimulus measures to boost the economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.29 percent, the S&P 500 Index dropped 0.29 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.66 percent.
Most of the European indices rose riding on the expectation that the ECB would announce measures to stimulate the euro zone economy. London's FTSE 100 was up 7.48 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index fell 5.54 points and France's CAC 40 climbed 5.06 points.
Asian stocks were down as investors felt let down with no announcement of monetary easing measures from the U.S. Fed.