(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Thursday with futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones up 0.3 percent, while Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.1 percent at 4:08 a.m. EDT.

The corporate and economic calendars were light on Thursday other than jobless benefits claims data and trading volumes could be thin ahead of the Good Friday holiday.

The Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended March 30 at 1230 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 355,000 new filings compared with 359,000 in the prior week.

Ford Motor Co. has raised its forecast for total 2012 U.S. auto sales after the industry's solid first quarter, Ford President for the Americas Mark Fields said on Wednesday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday that the company is inclined to restrict its stock buybacks when its shares are trading above $45.

Delta Airlines, struggling with high fuel costs, is considering a bid for ConocoPhillips' idled 185,000 barrel per day refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Nike Inc. beat its rival Reebok International in court on Wednesday in a legal pile-up over the use of popular National Football League quarterback Tim Tebow's name and number on shirts of his new team, the New York Jets.

Apple Inc. and publishers Pearson and Macmillan are reluctant to agree to terms sought by U.S. and European antitrust authorities investigating possible electronic-book price-fixing, the Wall Street Journal cited sources as saying on Wednesday.

Quest Software Inc.'s new chief executive rushed to sell the company to head off a possible investigation by regulators, according to a shareholder lawsuit that shines a light on the technology company's accounting.

The world's largest branded wine maker, Constellation Brands, reports fourth-quarter results, with analysts polled by Reuters expecting earnings per share of $0.38, up from $0.35 a year earlier.

The services sector in China, the world's second-largest economy, expanded solidly in March and business confidence hit an 11-month high, though overall activity remained below its long-term average, a private sector survey of purchasing managers showed on Thursday.

European shares rose early on Thursday, snapping a two-session slide, with investors tempted back into the market after the FTSEurofirst 300 index hit a support level where buyers have returned in the past.

Japan's Nikkei ended down 0.5 percent on Thursday, hurt by renewed concerns about Europe's funding difficulties after a weak Spanish debt auction and by fading hopes for additional stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The benchmark is still up more than 15 percent this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 124.80 points, or 0.95 percent, to 13,074.75 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index  tumbled 14.42 points, or 1.02 percent, to 1,398.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 45.48 points, or 1.46 percent, to 3,068.09. Volume was light.

(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Susan Fenton)