Stock futures for the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 fall 0.5 to 0.6 percent, pointing to a weaker start on Wall Street on Thursday.

Labor Department releases at 8:30 a.m. EST first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended January 30. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 460,000 new filings compared with 470,000 in the prior week. The figures are seen as a precursor to the key monthly non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

Commerce Department releases December factory orders at 10 a.m. EST. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a rise of 0.5 percent compared with a 0.6 percent rise in the prior month.

China dismissed on Thursday U.S. threats it would get tough with Beijing on trade and currency to ensure American goods did not face a competitive disadvantage, saying its yuan currency was at a reasonable level.

Struggling U.S. jewelry chain Zale Corp is seeking to sell some of its inventory to its vendors to raise cash, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a company document and people familiar with the matter.

With a nervous eye on the November congressional elections, Senate Democrats will unveil tax credits and other proposals on Thursday that aim to bring down the nation's double-digit unemployment rate.

At 8:30 a.m. EST, preliminary fourth quarter Productivity and Unit Labor Costs numbers will be released. Economists forecast a rise of 6.0 percent versus a rise of 8.1 percent in the third quarter. Unit Labor Costs are seen falling 2.5 percent, unchanged from the third quarter report.

ICSC releases chain store sales for January versus a year ago. No set time. In the previous month, sales rose 2.8 percent versus a year ago.

MasterCard, the world's second-largest credit card network, is likely to report a big gain in earnings, boosted by an increase in processed transactions and price increases despite an expected drop in U.S. credit card purchase volume.

Fourth-quarter results from Moody's are expected to show a slight improvement over the year-earlier quarter as credit issuance picked up, boosting its ratings business.

Other companies announcing results include Cigna, Diamond Offshore Drilling and Avon.

Kraft Foods is planning to sell a minimum of $4 billion in bonds in four parts on Thursday to help finance its $18.7 billion acquisition of British chocolatier Cadbury, IFR said on Wednesday.

Oil fell 0.8 percent to trade below $77 a barrel as rising crude inventories in the U.S. signaled that a rebound in U.S. economic activity was failing to translate into higher demand.

Shares of Visa Inc rose 1.8 percent to $85.00 in extended trade on Wednesday after the company reported quarterly results.

Shares of Cisco Systems rose 1.9 percent after the bell on Wednesday as the company reported results.

European shares fell 1 percent ahead of interest rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England later on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> lost 0.5 percent on Thursday, with Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> sliding further on its recall woes and Sharp Corp <6753.T> tumbling after reporting a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit.

U.S. stocks mostly fell on Wednesday as Pfizer's
disappointing outlook weighed on the health sector, and President Barack Obama's pledge to complete banking and healthcare reforms revived fears of increased regulation.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 26.30 points, or 0.26 percent, to end at 10,270.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 6.04 points, or 0.55 percent, to end at 1,097.28. But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> inched up just 0.85 of a point, or 0.04 percent, to close at 2,190.91.

Shares of Monster Worldwide Inc rose 2.3 percent to $16.80 in extended trade on Wednesday after the company reported quarterly results and said it will buy Yahoo Inc's HotJobs.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sharon Lindores)