U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday ahead of jobs and productivity data and same-store sales numbers from major U.S. retailers.
* The sales data kicked off with Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) reporting a better than expected 5 percent increase in October sales, helped by a weak U.S. dollar that helped push up international sales.
* Investors eyeing the key government payrolls and unemployment data due Friday may mute the reaction to Thursday's jobless claims numbers.
* We are in a consolidation phase, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York. I suspect the market will move sideways today in anticipation of tomorrow's jobs data.
* Initial weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), are set to fall to 523,000 from 530,000 in the previous week, according to a Reuters poll.
* Cardillo said only a large swing in applications for unemployment insurance could be a market mover.
* S&P 500 futures SPc1 edged lower 0.9 point but were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures DJc1 fell 5 points and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 shed 3 points.
* After the closing bell on Wednesday, Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) gained 3.1 percent after the network equipment vendor said quarterly revenue rose more than expected from the previous quarter. The company also said its board authorized up to $10 billion in additional stock buybacks.
* As investors look for a signal on a rebound in consumer spending, retail chains are seen posting positive same-store sales results for October. Sales are expected to have risen 1.2 percent overall, according to Thomson Reuters data. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
* The Bank of England left interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent for the eighth month running, as expected.
* On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 0.3 percent, after rising as much as 1.6 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX edged up 0.1 percent.