The U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open Thursday ahead of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data, the Census Bureau's durable goods orders data and Bureau of Economic Analysis’s gross domestic product (GDP) report.
The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.49 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were up 0.43 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.37 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 fall to 378,000 in the week ending Sept. 22, down from 382,000 in the previous week.
Investors are also expected to focus on the durable goods orders data to be reported Thursday. Durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods, are expected to decrease 5 percent in August down from a rise of 4.1 percent in July. The core durable goods orders for August, which will exclude the transportation items, are expected to increase 0.3 percent, up from 0.6 percent decrease in July.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will report Thursday the third estimate of the second quarter GDP, which measures the annualized change in the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced by the economy. The U.S. economy is expected to have expanded at 1.7 percent in the second quarter, but that is down from the 1.9 percent rise of the first quarter. The second estimate of the second quarter GDP reported last month also showed that the economy expanded at 1.7 percent.
On Wednesday, the U.S. markets fell amid revival of investor concerns that the debt crisis affecting the euro zone would impair the global economic growth momentum. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.33 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.57 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.77 percent.
European markets rose Thursday as investor sentiment turned positive with expectations that Spain would soon seek help to reduce its increasing debt burden. Investors are expected to focus on Spain with the Spanish government presenting both its structural reforms and 2013 budget plan Thursday.
London's FTSE 100 was up 26.02 points, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 35.33 points and France's CAC 40 gained 19.36 points.
Asian markets also rose Thursday as investor confidence was lifted by hopes that China would soon announce monetary easing measures to rejuvenate the economic growth momentum. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics Thursday, profits made by Chinese industrial companies slumped 6.2 percent to 381.2 billion yuan ($60.4 billion) in August compared to that in the previous year.