Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 4, 2011. REUTERS

The U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open Thursday as investor sentiment was lifted by expectations that policy makers around the world would announce monetary easing measures to regain the economic growth momentum.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.40 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were up 0.30 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.39 percent.

China's manufacturing activity fell in August compared to that in July, according to the preliminary HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) released Thursday. The preliminary reading of the PMI, a measure of the nationwide manufacturing activity, declined to 47.8 in August, which is a nine-month low, compared to 49.3 in July. Market players hope that this will prompt China to announce monetary easing measures to invigorate the growth of the world's second largest economy.

Investors are likely to focus on the Labor Department's weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported Thursday. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to fall to 365,000 for the week ending August 18, down from 366,000 in the previous week.

Investors are also expected to focus on the new home sales data for July to be reported by the Census Bureau. New home sales, measuring the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month, are expected to rise to 365,000, up from 350,000 in June.

On Wednesday, the U.S. markets were mixed as investors hoped that the Federal Reserve would soon announce monetary easing measures to rejuvenate the economic growth momentum. The minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting announced by the Fed Wednesday noted that many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.23percent, the S&P 500 Index was marginally up 0.02 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.21 percent.

The major European indices were in green as investors were hopeful ahead of the meetings between the Greek and other euro zone leaders in Berlin this week to discuss measures to tackle the economic and financial instability affecting Greece. London's FTSE 100 was up 31.41 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index rose 55.70 points and France's CAC 40 advanced 28.91 points.

Most of the Asian stocks also rose following the global cues. Market confidence was lifted by expectation about China announcing stimulus measures to boost its economy.