Wall Street was poised to open lower on Thursday as an increase in jobless claims and a stronger-than-expected inflation growth added concerns after a weak outlook from retail giant Wal-Mart.

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly surged last week, the Labor Department said.

A separate report by the Labor Department showed U.S. producer prices rose faster than expected in January as higher gasoline prices and usually cold temperatures helped boost energy costs.

When you have PPI (Producer Price Index) moving up and still no progress in the jobs situation, that doesn't bode well for continued improvement in equity prices, said Alan Lancz, president at Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc in Toledo, Ohio.

The bottom line is that the Fed is going to have some decision to make at its next meeting, since it seems inflation is now back on the table.

S&P 500 futures fell 5.3 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 32 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 5.8 points.

The economic data came as a disappointment to investors who were already worried about the state of consumers' expectations after Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a higher quarterly profit, but said sales at its existing U.S. namesake stores fell during the holiday quarter. The company also forecast earnings for the current quarter that could miss Wall Street estimates and its shares dipped 1.6 percent to $53.18.

In other earnings news, Dell , the world's No. 3 PC maker, is expected to post fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.27 against $0.29 a year ago. Dell struggled through the economic downturn and investors hope the firm will say it benefited from a strong uptick in corporate spending on IT hardware, although deep market share losses and a lack of diversity in its business model may still worry Wall Street.

On Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard and Applied Materials beat estimates with their latest earnings and raised guidance for the year.

The Philadelphia Fed index is out at 10 a.m., with a reading of 17.0 expected for February. That is above the 15.2 registered in January. Also at 10 a.m., the Conference Board issues its index of leading economic indicators for February, with a 0.5 percent rise considered likely following January's 1.1 percent increase.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve, said that several policymakers want to begin selling securities relatively soon to cut back the U.S. central bank's massive help to the financial system as the economy finds a footing.

Gold prices and gold mining companies also will be in the spotlight as the International Monetary Fund said it would soon begin sales of 191.3 tonnes of gold remaining in its plan to raise new resources for lending. Traders say the IMF may seek buyers among Asian central banks.

(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)

(Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)