Wall Street stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower start on Thursday as investors await earnings news and U.S. weekly jobless data ahead of the all important key U.S. non-farm payrolls figures on Friday.

At 5:03 a.m. ET, futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones futures and Nasdaq futures were 0.02 to 0.1 percent lower.

Investors' will watch the latest U.S. weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, a key indicator ahead of Friday's U.S. monthly jobs report.

A monthly gauge of labor demand in the United States, based on online job postings, grew 21 percent in July from its position a year ago, marking the sixth straight month of annual growth, a private research group said on Thursday.

Corporate results to be eyed include second-quarter earnings from Kraft Foods , healthcare insurer CIGNA Corp. , and media company Viacom .

IBM and Aetna Inc on Thursday jointly launched a service aimed at helping hospitals improve patient care by making better use of electronic medical records and other digital data.

Verizon Communications Inc and Google Inc agreed to a deal over how Internet traffic will be treated, two people familiar with the agreement said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to pass a proxy access rule that would give large shareholders the right to directly nominate directors on corporate ballots alongside the company's choices, with the cost being borne by the company, the Wall Street Journal said.

The risks of the U.S. economy entering a double-dip recession and falling into deflation may now be around one in four, the chief executive of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond investment manager, said on Thursday.

The dollar rose on Thursday, recovering as investors unwound bets against the currency thanks to some better signs on the economy ahead of key U.S. non-farm payrolls figures on Friday.

Oil fell for a second day on Thursday, approaching $82, as dollar strength kept a lid on prices, neutralizing the effect of upbeat U.S. employment data and a drop in the nation's crude inventories last week.

U.S. stocks rose in thin trade on Wednesday boosted by retailers' earnings and a report showing a slight improvement in private employment, ahead of Friday's payrolls report.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 0.4 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 0.9 percent.

European shares were higher in morning trade on Thursday ahead of rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England and Friday's crucial U.S. jobs data.

At 5:04 a.m., the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was 0.2 percent higher at 1,073.35 points.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; editing by Simon Jessop)