Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Thursday after Wall Street's best day in eight weeks as initial jobless claims showed a small decline last week.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits dropped for a second straight week, slipping 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000 in latest week.

The report comes before Friday's key nonfarm payroll report, which investors will eye for signals on the strength of the economy.

Considering the volatility that they've had the last couple of months, it's nice to see consistent numbers, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. But (with) a lot of that, we are talking about seasonal adjustments, the census stuff, so it kind of makes sense that things have leveled out.

I would say if we are able to hold even through the day, and hold on to (Wednesday's) gains, that is a good sign actually, that we don't have some profit taking set in.

Later Thursday factory orders will be reported and are expected to show an increase of 0.3 percent, rebounding from a decline of 1.2 percent in June. Also due are pending home sales, seen falling 1 percent after dropping 2.6 percent to a record low the previous month. The data will come at 10 a.m. EDT.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 point and were slightly 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 off 2 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 1.5 points.

U.S. retailers posted better-than-expected sales in August as consumers sought out bargains during the key back-to-school selling season.

Costco Wholesale Corp , the largest U.S. warehouse club operator, reported a 7 percent rise in August same-store sales, aided by a surge in gasoline prices and foreign currency gains.

Costco shares gained 1.1 percent to $58.45 in premarket trade and retailer Kohl's Corp advanced 1 percent to $48.90 after it reported same-stores sales above estimates.

Burger King Holdings Inc jumped 20 percent to $22.80 premarket after cable business channel CNBC reported a buyout deal for the No. 2 U.S. hamburger chain by investment firm 3G Capital, valued at $24 per share, or about $4 billion.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)