Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, February 28, 2012. REUTERS

U.S. stock index futures point to a lower opening Thursday ahead of the Department of Labor's weekly jobless claims data and the Census Bureau's the durable goods orders data.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.20 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were down 0.19 percent and futures on the Nasdaq 100 index were down 0.19 percent.

Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported Thursday. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to rise to 380,000 for the week ending July 21, after rising to 386,000 the previous week.

Investors are also expected to focus on the durable goods orders data to be reported Thursday. Durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for long lasting manufactured goods, including transportation items, are expected to increase 0.4 percent in June down from rise of 1.3 percent in May. Core durable goods orders for May, which will exclude the transportation items, are expected to increase 0.1 percent.

On Wednesday, the U.S. markets were mixed as investor sentiment was affected by the new home sales data released by the Census Bureau. The new home sales, measuring the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month, dropped in June to 350,000 down from 382,000 in May.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.47 percent, the S&P 500 Index declined 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.31 percent.

Major European indices marginally fell as investor sentiment was dragged down by disappointing earnings reported by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens AG and Alcatel-Lucent SA. London's FTSE 100 was down 2.88 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index fell 34.06 points and France's CAC 40 dropped 2.42 points.

Asian stocks rose amid hopes that central banks all over the world would soon announce stimulus measures to tackle the weakening global economy.