Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 22, 2010. REUTERS

Futures on major U.S. stock indices point to higher opening on Thursday but pared earlier gains after the Department of Labor reported that weekly jobless claims climbed last week.

Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.35 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.29 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.47 percent.

At 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims increased by 26,000 to 436,000 for the week ended Nov 27 from the previous week's revised figure of 410,000, while economists expected 429,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims declined 5,750 to 431,000 from the previous week's revised average of 436,750.

The weekly jobless claims data comes a day ahead of the government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which is the most closely-watch economic data pertaining to the jobs market and is a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery.

The release of the U.S. jobs data also coincided with the beginning of the European Central Bank (ECB) press conference regarding its monetary policy and economic outlook. ECB, as widely expected, kept interest rates unchanged at 1 percent.

The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator that looks at contracts signed for existing homes, is due to be released after the markets open and is expected to show that sales witness a drop in October following drop in the existing home sales and new home sales reported last week.

On the M&A front, PepsiCo agreed to acquire 66 percent of Russia's dairy and fruit juice company Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods for $3.8 billion, making it the largest food-and-beverage business in Russia.

US stock markets started December with a strong rally on Wednesday on a slew of good economic data, including jobs, productivity and regional growth.

The euro declined 0.07 percent to 1.3130 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.08 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures declined 0.24 percent to $86.54/barrel and gold futures advanced 0.15 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 57.77 points, DAX30 up by 22.92 points and CAC 40 up by 31.70 points.