U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.3 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.3 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.2 percent. at 1051 GMT.

European stocks gained ground in morning trade, extending a week-long rally and hitting a two-year high led by shares of financial institutions such as Societe Generale and ING , while U.S. Treasuries steadied following their recent sharp sell off.

Oil climbed toward $89 a barrel and copper hit a record high on Thursday as the dollar weakened.

A plan by U.S. President Barack Obama to broadly extend tax cuts moved forward on Wednesday despite opposition from his own Democrats and fear in bond markets of long-term damage to the economy.

On the global front, Japan's economy grew a revised 1.1 percent in July-September from the previous quarter, exceeding an initial government estimate, but that offered little comfort to policymakers wary of slowing growth in the current quarter.

Australian employment blew away forecasts by surging 54,600 in November as firms took on many more full-time workers, fuelling expectations that interest rates may not stay on hold for too long.

United Parcel Service plans to woo shareholders with a higher dividend and more share buybacks rather than use strong cashflow for large acquisitions, chief financial officer Kurt Kuehn told a German newspaper.

Automakers in China shipped 29.3 percent more passenger cars to dealers in November, extending a rebound that began in August as people rushed to showrooms before incentives expire at the end of the year.

Economic indicators on tap for Thursday include the Labor Department's release of weekly claims for unemployment insurance and the Commerce Department's release of wholesale inventories for October.

Companies expected to report quarterly results on Thursday include Brown-Forman Corp , National Semiconductor and Pall Corp


China and North Korea reached consensus on the Korean peninsula crisis after candid talks, Chinese state media reported, which analysts said suggested Pyongyang likely agreed not to inflame the situation.

U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday as gains in financial and technology stocks offset declines caused by a recent surge in bond yields.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 13.32 points, or 0.12 percent, to 11,372.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 4.53 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,228.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 10.67 points, or 0.41 percent, to 2,609.16.

* The S&P faces resistance at the 1,228 level, which represents the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement of the 2007-2009 bear market slide, a key technical indicator.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Hans Peters)