U.S. stock index futures were pointing to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, as investors awaited data that could shed more light on the health of the economy.

Monthly orders for durable goods will show how demand for big-ticket items has held up and act as a gauge of the strength of the broader economy.

Consumer confidence data, which is expected to drop in December, will also be key. Analysts have been concerned about the strength of consumer spending amid a housing slump and higher food and fuel prices.

Frankfurt-listed shares of retailers JC Penney and Target rose more than 1 percent, but Wal-Mart dropped 0.4 percent.

Economic data will shape the day. Durable goods is going to be important and of course consumer confidence, which they're expecting to drop to a 2-year low, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

S&P 500 futures SPc1 were down 1.2 points, but above fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures DJc1 fell 25 points. Nasdaq 100 NDc1 futures were up 2.5 points.

Financial stocks could be under pressure, after Goldman Sachs said Citigroup could cut its dividend 40 percent to preserve its capital. Goldman also raised its estimates for write-offs tied to collateralised debt obligations at Citi, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase

I would think Goldman is right, I expect there to be more bad news out there. It's far too early to pick a bottom in financials, Mendelsohn said.

Shares of student loan provider Sallie Mae fell 2.5 percent in Europe, after the company said late Wednesday it plans to sell about $2.5 billion of stock and mandatory convertible securities to help pay off derivatives contracts that amounted to a bet that its share price would keep increasing.

Shares of Cirrus Logic rose 6 percent in Europe, after Soros Fund Management reported in a regulatory filing that it holds a 5.18 percent stake in the chip maker.

U.S. stocks ended little changed on Wednesday after discount retailer Target Inc cut its sales forecast, offsetting gains in major energy companies as oil hit a one-month high.