Wall Street was set for a flat open on Thursday, one day after the Dow pushed to a 17-month high, as data showed consumer prices were unchanged in February and the number of new applications for jobless benefits fell slightly less than expected last week.
The unexpectedly flat CPI reading could provide support for the market as it backs up the Federal Reserve's commitment to ultra low interest rates.
One can glean from the report that inflation is definitely not an issue ... and a low inflation environment is good for everybody, said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group in Colonial Heights, Virginia.
But worries over Greece's fiscal situation added caution after its prime minister warned his country would not be able to make planned deficit cuts unless it can borrow money cheaply, while the finance minister denied an earlier report that Athens may apply for financial aid from the International Monetary Fund as soon as next month.
Stocks gained on Wednesday, making for a seven-day winning streak for the Dow, its longest since an eight-session run in August 2009. Volume, however, has been lackluster ahead of key options expirations on Thursday and Friday, when four different types of options and futures contracts expire in a convergence known as quadruple witching.
S&P 500 futures added 0.5 points and 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 were up 17 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3 points.
Thursday's jobless claims data pointed to a gradual improvement in the labor market, with initial claims falling last week, but the number of people still receiving benefits after the first week rose unexpectedly.
Other data on tap includes the regional Philadelphia Fed survey for March and leading economic indicators for February, both due at 10:00 am (1500 GMT).
The Philly Fed index is expected to rise to 18 from 17.6 the month before, while the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators is expected to rise 0.1 percent compared to a 0.3 percent gain the previous month.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)