U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday as weekly U.S. jobless claims fell and data showed a jump in Chinese inflation.

Initial claims dropped by 6,000 to 462,000 in the latest week, the Labor Department said, while economists expected 460,000 claims.

This shows that the labor market isn't getting stronger, which continues to be something that will negatively impact consumer spending, said Gary Shilling, president of an investment research firm in Springfield, New Jersey.

Investors also fretted about the prospects of monetary tightening in top consumer China, where inflation rose to a 16-month high in February.

Rising inflation gives China an incentive to clamp down their monetary policy, which could impact global demand for things like commodities, Shilling said.

S&P 500 futures fell 5.1 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 dropped 33 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 6.25 points.

Also Thursday, the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed as oil imports fell to their lowest since February 1999, the government reported.

BP Plc has agreed to buy Brazilian, Azeri and Gulf of Mexico fields from Devon Energy Corp for $7 billion. Devon shares advanced 2.3 percent to $73.35 in premarket trading.

Smithfield Foods Inc rose 2.2 percent to $19.40 after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, at a conference later Thursday, is set to forecast returns of 1.25 percent a year or more on the bank's main assets within a few years, the Financial Times reported. Citi shares rose 2 cents to $3.98 before the bell.

Overseas, European shares were broadly lower in early trade, while the Nikkei 225 index closed 1 percent higher.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)