Wall Street was set to edge up on Thursday, the last day of the first quarter, extending gains a day after labor data helped to boost confidence on the prospects for economic recovery.
At 0859 GMT (4:59 a.m. ET), futures for the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,133.24 points, with banks lower ahead of the results of stress tests for Irish banks.
Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to continue to inch lower, to 380,000 from 382,000 the week before. Annual revisions will also be released, which could alter the level as seasonal adjustment factors will be updated.
Microsoft Corp stepped up its rivalry with Google Inc on Thursday by filing a formal complaint with the European Commission claiming Google systematically thwarts Internet search competition.
Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday he wanted to raise the Italian carmaker's stake in Chrysler to 51 percent this year, but hinted taking the company public may be pushed into 2012.
British housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has sold its North American business to a group of private equity firms for $955 million, in a long-awaited deal that will help it cut debt and focus on its UK business.
U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, as unaltered expectations for a healthy number on Friday's labor market data, following a reassuring figure on private payrolls, kept sentiment up.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 0.6 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> rose 0.7 percent; the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> gained 0.7 percent.
The S&P 500 is up 5.6 percent so far this year.
(Reporting by Brian Gorman; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)