U.S. shares looked set to open higher on Thursday, extending Wednesday's gains after relatively dovish comments from Federal Reserve policy makers, but worries about the extent of the U.S. slowdown may cap equity buying.
Weekly jobless claims data at 1230 GMT, leading economic indicators and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's National Activity Index at 1400 GMT, and the Philadelphia Fed's business activity survey at 1600 GMT will be scoured for any signs of a sharper-than-expected landing of the world's biggest economy.
The Philly Fed is expected to post a decline to 14.8 and a stronger figure could be perceived as good for growth prospects, but bad for interest rate doves, said Angus Campbell, head of sales at Finspreads in London.
On the corporate front, transportation giant FedEx Corp., food companies General Mills Inc. and ConAgra Foods Inc., shoemaker Nike Inc. and cruise line Carnival Corp. are all due to report earnings.
By 1000 GMT, U.S. stock futures were pointing to opening gains of between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent for the three main indexes.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average ended 0.63 percent higher at 11,613.19, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 0.52 percent to 1,325.18, while robust results from software maker Oracle pushed the Nasdaq Composite Index up 1.37 percent at 2,252.89.
Sentiment got a shot in the arm from the Fed holding its benchmark interest rate steady at 5.25 percent for a second straight meeting, saying that while inflation risks remain, they should abate as economic growth slows.
But the outcome of Wednesday's policy-setting meeting was not as dovish as some had hoped, with some pointing that the decision to leave interest rates unchanged was not unanimous.
A Reuters poll of Wall Street economists published on Wednesday showed that a significant number of economists still believed inflation would force the central bank to resume tightening monetary policy at a later date.
But for now, oil prices holding below $61 a barrel helped quell these inflation worries. Crude oil prices have dipped around 22 percent over the past two months, prompting many investors to lock in their profits on energy stocks amid worries of slowing profit growth at oil and gas majors.
At the micro end of the market, Boeing may react after European arch-rival Airbus revealed new delays for its A380 superjumbo jet, blaming a repeat of wiring installation problems that have already pushed the programme a year behind schedule and hit future profits.
Elsewhere, Silicon Laboratories will likely be hit after warning it expected third-quarter net income to be 5 cents to 8 cents a share, below its previous expected range of 18 to 21 cents, pushing its shares down 6 percent in electronic trading after the market closed.
And, U.S. drug maker Hospira offered A$2.6 billion for Australian generic cancer drugs group Mayne Pharma to become the top global provider of injectable drugs to hospitals.
Still on the takeover front, Swiss insurer Zurich Financial Services and U.S. rival St. Paul Travelers Cos may announce a merger in November, Swiss newspaper CASH reported.