U.S. stock index futures point to a slightly higher open on Thursday ahead of the publication of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.05 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.09 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.16 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 Thursday. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 350,000 for the week ending Apr. 13, up from 346,000 in the previous week.

In addition, Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Business Outlook Survey will be released after the opening bell and is expected to show a modest improvement in April to 3.0 from 2.0 recorded in the prior month. The Philadelphia Fed index returned to the positive territory last month, after two months of contraction.

Meanwhile, market participants are also expected to focus on earnings reports, with Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU), KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB), PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) expected to announce their quarterly results on Thursday.

U.S. stock markets plunged on Wednesday as renewed global growth concerns and disappointing corporate earnings weighed on the investor sentiment.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.94 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 1.43 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 1.84 percent.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) shares plunged nearly 5 percent in regular trading Wednesday after the company reported first quarter earnings below analysts’ estimates. Its first quarter net profit surged to $2.62 billion or $0.20 per share from $653 million or $0.03 per share in the same period last year but fell short of Reuters’ estimate of $0.22 per share.

European stock markets were trading higher with Germany's DAX30 up 0.24 percent, France's CAC 40 gaining 0.63 percent and London's FTSE 100 advancing 0.07 percent.

Asian stock markets mostly ended lower Thursday as weak commodity prices weighed on mining stocks. Japanese Nikkei declined 1.22 percent, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite plunged 1.24 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.27 percent while Chinese Shanghai Composite gained 0.17 percent and India’s BSE Sensex advanced 0.80 percent.

Meanwhile, official data released Thursday showed that Japan’s trade deficit has narrowed to a nine-month-low in March as exports rose higher than analysts' expectations. The world’s third largest economy recorded a trade deficit of 362.4 billion yen ($3.7 billion) in March from 777.5 billion yen in February. Exports increased 1.1 percent on an annual basis to 6.3 trillion yen, above Reuters’ estimate of a 0.4 percent gain.