Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 fell 0.1 to 0.5 percent, pointing to a weaker start on Wall Street on Thursday.

The Labor Department releases at 8.30 a.m. EDT first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended October 17. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 515,000 new filings compared with 514,000 in the prior week.

Microsoft Corp launched Windows 7 on Thursday in its most important release for more than a decade, aiming to win back customers after the disappointing Vista and strengthen its grip on the PC market.

Investors awaited more results from companies such as

American Express, Amazon.com , AT&T, 3M Co., McDonald's Corp., Dow Chemicals, Merck & Co. and Xerox Corp.

U.S. crude oil fell 1 percent to trade near $80 a barrel, weighed down by gains in the dollar.

At 9 a.m. EDT, Federal Reserve's Consumer Advisory Council holds its final public meeting of 2009 to discuss proposed rules regarding closed-end mortgages and home-equity lines of credit; proposed rules to implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009; foreclosure issues; and committee reports.

The Conference Board releases at 10 a.m. EDT its report on leading economic indicators for September. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 0.8 percent rise compared with a 0.6 percent increase in August.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issues Home Price Index for August at 10 a.m. In the prior month, the index rose 0.3 percent.

Top earners at financial and auto companies bailed out by the U.S. government will see their pay slashed under an Obama administration plan aimed at addressing public outrage over eye-popping paychecks, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

In macro-economic news, China's economic growth picked up last quarter as expected as a combination of breakneck investment and buoyant bank lending more than made up for a slump in exports.

But the 8.9 percent growth rate fell short of some of the more optimistic predictions in the market, and the government promptly said it would stick to the ultra-loose policies it has been following for the past year.

EBay Inc forecast results for the fourth quarter at the low end of Wall Street estimates on Wednesday, disappointing investors who were hoping for a substantial turnaround for the holidays. EBay shares in Frankfurt fell 6.2 percent.

Shares in Citrix Systems Inc fell 4.6 percent to $39.45 in extended trade on Wednesday after the company posted third quarter results.

Shares in Amgen Inc fell 5.7 percent to $56 in extended trade on Wednesday after the world's largest biotechnology company said third-quarter earnings rose, beating Wall Street forecasts, while sales fell.

European stocks fell on Thursday, with Ericsson's poor results hitting tech shares. The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was down 1.2 percent, after ending just shy of a one-year closing high in the previous session.

U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, hurt by a late sell-off in financial shares after an influential bank analyst recommended selling Wells Fargo shares and a wider-than-expected loss from Boeing disappointed investors.

Shares of Wells Fargo slid 5.1 percent after Rochdale Research analyst Richard Bove cut his rating on the stock saying loan losses were mounting.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 92.12 points, or 0.92 percent, to end at 9,949.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 9.66 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,081.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shed 12.74 points, or 0.59 percent, to 2,150.73.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Hans Peters)