Stock index futures rose on Thursday after an upgrade of General Motors Corp. sent shares of the auto maker higher. Trading was likely to be choppy before the Federal Reserve's interest-rate decision next week and volume lower due to the Jewish New Year.

Shares of GM, a Dow component, shot up 6 percent to $32.10 before the opening bell after Citigroup recommended the shares as a buy.

Weekly initial jobless claims data will likely get attention at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The employment climate was thrown into doubt last week when August payrolls data showed a surprise drop of 4,000 jobs. Economists forecast unemployment benefits claims rose to 325,000 last week from 318,000 the week before.

Expectations are that the Fed will cut its benchmark interest rate of 5.25 percent by at least a quarter point at its meeting on Tuesday.

We're in limbo until Tuesday, the trading activity will just be repositioning in front of the Fed, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

S&P 500 futures were up 1.2 points, above fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 3.75 points.

The telecommunications sector could sag after the Franco-American telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent slashed its revenue outlook due to a change in capital spending among its wireless customers in North America.

Pharmaceutical stocks looked set to extend their gains of the past few sessions as Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc stock climbed nearly 12 percent before the opening bell. A unit of Johnson & Johnson will pay to license two of Isis' experimental diabetes drugs.

Shares of Target Corp. rose 2.2 percent to $64.11 in extended trading on Wednesday after the retailer said it is had hired an investment bank to advise it in a review of options for its credit card assets.

Shares of McDonald's Corp. rose 1.9 percent to $52.20 in extended trade on Wednesday after the fast-food chain increased its dividend and the amount of cash it expects to return to shareholders.