Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday as data showed a weaker labor market ahead of a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama detailing his plan for jobs growth.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 414,000 in the week ended September 3 from an upwardly revised 412,000 the prior week, the government said.

On the heels of the claims data and last Friday's dismal payrolls report showing no jobs created in August, Obama is expected to propose tax cuts for middle-class households and businesses and new spending to repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will deliver a speech on the U.S. economic outlook to the Economic Club of Minnesota at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT), but he is unlikely to outline new measures to boost the economy.

(The data) is not going to help. Could we pull back more? For sure, said Sam Ginzburg, head of capital markets at First New York in New York.

I want to hear what Bernanke has to say, I want to hear what Obama has to say, which in turn is going to make Friday, for our market, a very interesting day.

S&P 500 futures fell 8.6 points and were below 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 dipped 69 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 9.5 points.

The European Central Bank held interest rates at 1.5 percent and is likely to indicate a policy tightening cycle begun in April is on hold in the face of more evidence the region's recovery is losing momentum. European stocks pared gains after the decision.

A U.S. appeals court has ruled a fraud lawsuit against Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co and other lenders involving mortgage practices cannot proceed. Bank of America shares lost 1.3 percent to $7.38 and Wells Fargo fell 1 percent to $24.70 in premarket trade.

Results from a trial of Pfizer Inc's
experimental rheumatoid arthritis treatment showed it was as effective as Abbott Inc's blockbuster injectable Humira, but more patients suffered serious side effects. Pfizer slipped 0.8 percent to $18.85 in premarket trading.

PerkinElmer Inc
is buying Caliper Life Sciences Inc to broaden its reach in molecular imaging and genomic detection technologies. Caliper surged 41.4 percent to $10.45 premarket.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)