Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, December 15, 2010. REUTERS

The U.S. stock index futures point to a slightly higher open Friday ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' nonfarm payrolls report and unemployment report.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.03 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.05 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.10 percent.

Investors are likely to focus on the nonfarm payrolls report Friday. The report, which measures the change in the number of people employed during the previous month, excluding the farming industry, is expected to increase 113,000 in September, up from 96,000 in August.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release its unemployment report, which measures the percentage of the total workforce that was unemployed and actively seeking employment during the previous month. The September unemployment rate is expected to marginally rise to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in August.

On Thursday, the U.S. markets rose as investor sentiment turned positive by the upward trend of the economy following the less-than-expected jobless claims and the stronger-than-expected factory orders.

According to the data released Thursday by the Labor Department, the weekly U.S. jobless claims rose to 367,000 in the week ending Sept. 29, up from 359,000 in the previous week. Meanwhile according to the data released by the Commerce Department, factory orders fell to 5.2 percent in August, down from a 2.8 percent increase in July.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.60 percent Thursday, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.72 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.45 percent.

European markets rose Friday as investor sentiment turned positive after the European Central Bank confirmed in its policy meeting at Ljubljana that it is ready to commence its bond-buying program which is aimed at reducing the debt burden faced by the euro zone. On the monthly policy meeting of the ECB held Thursday, President Mario Draghi made it clear that the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program was ready to be activated as soon as the conditions are met by the governments.

London's FTSE 100 was up 19.69 points, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 25.88 points and France's CAC 40 advanced 16.51 points.

Stock markets in China were closed Friday for holiday. Most of the Asian markets rose as investor confidence was lifted with hopes that the U.S. jobs data would be encouraging.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan decided to keep its monetary policy unchanged. After its policy decision meeting Friday, the central bank said that its board decided to keep rates at between zero and 0.1 percent.