Futures on major US indices point to a lower opening Thursday ahead of key weekly jobless claims from the government.

Futures on the S&P 500 are down 0.48 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 0.43 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are down 0.29 percent.

Ahead of Friday's March non-farm payrolls report, the Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims data at 8:30 am EDT. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 355,000 for the week ending March 31 against 359,000 of the previous week. Any data that is weaker than expected will weigh on market sentiments.

Payroll firm ADP Employer Services said that the US private sector added more jobs than expected in March. Companies added 209,000 workers to their payrolls in March, up from an upwardly revised 230,000 jobs added in February.

The ADP data came two days before the government's monthly nonfarm payroll report, which is the most closely-watched economic data pertaining to the jobs market and is a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery.

On the earnings front, Carmax Inc. and Constellation Brands are due to report quarterly earnings before the opening bell. Constellation Brands is expected to report fourth quarter net profit of $0.39 per share compared to $0.35 per share in the same period last year.

European stocks are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 35.68 points, DAX30 down by 77.71 points and CAC 40 down by 26.56 points.

Most Asian stock markets ended lower Thursday, with Japanese Nikkei declining 0.53 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 1.05 percent, while Chinese Shanghai rallied 1.74 percent after a three-day holiday.