(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.55 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.42 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.59 percent at 3:34 a.m. EDT (0734 GMT).

European stocks inched higher in morning trade, although the gains were limited by simmering worries over the region's debt crisis ahead of a key bond auction by Italy, at which 3-year borrowing costs are set to rise by a full percentage point from a month ago.

On the macro front, investors will keep an eye on March's Producer Price Index, due at 1230 GMT, with economists in a Reuters survey forecasting a 0.3 percent rise in PPI compared with a 0.4 percent increase in February. Excluding volatile food and energy items, PPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent, a repeat of the February increase.

Investors also awaited weekly jobless claims, at 1230 GMT.

On the earnings front, Google Inc is among the few companies set to report during the session.

Gloomy jobs data for March does not signal the recovery has been thrown off course, a top Federal Reserve official said on Wednesday. The report was mediocre but it's just one piece of data in the larger mosaic, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told reporters. I don't think it changes the outlook appreciably.

The Federal Reserve's ultra-easy monetary policy is appropriate given high unemployment and the headwinds facing the economy, the No. 2 official of the U.S. central bank said on Wednesday, as she left the door open to further action if needed.

Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund, significantly decreased his exposure in U.S. Treasuries and other Treasury-related securities in March and also scaled back on his leverage use.

Foreclosure actions on U.S. homes fell in the first quarter to the lowest level since late 2007, a report from RealtyTrac said on Thursday.

Sony Corp. said it is to cut around 10,000 jobs -- 6 percent of its global workforce -- as new CEO Kazuo Hirai moves to reduce costs and staunch huge losses at the Japanese electronics giant.

Bank of America Corp.'s chief information officer is leaving the company and will be replaced by a consumer banking executive, the bank said on Tuesday.

Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG , in a letter to Illumina Inc shareholders, called its sweetened $51-a-share offer for the maker of genetic analysis equipment a more than reasonable starting point for negotiations.

Best Buy Co Inc's board is still looking into the personal conduct of the retailer's former chief executive even though he already left the company, a spokesman for the board said on Wednesday.

Ford Motor Co. and Dow Chemical Co. will work to develop cost-effective ways of using carbon fiber in high-volume cars and trucks as the No.2 U.S. automaker moves to cut vehicle weight to improve overall fuel economy.

Caterpillar Inc., the world's biggest heavy machinery maker, has sold a part of its Bucyrus distribution and support business to one of its Australian dealers for $400 million.

An encouraging start to earnings season helped U.S. stocks rebound on Wednesday from five days of losses that pushed the S&P 500 below a key technical level.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 89.46 points, or 0.70 percent, to 12,805.39 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 10.12 points, or 0.74 percent, to 1,368.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 25.24 points, or 0.84 percent, to 3,016.46.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson)