Stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Thursday as investors turned cautious following a jump in quarterly profit at JPMorgan Chase & Co and a steep fall in jobless claims, a day after Wall Street tallied its biggest three-day gain since March.

JPMorgan's second-quarter earnings topped Wall Street's estimates, continuing a stream of reassuring news on bank earnings after Goldman Sachs Group posted similarly stronger results on Tuesday.

Government data showed the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to their lowest level since January, but the seasonally adjusted data was again distorted by an unusual pattern of automotive industry layoffs that amplified the drop.

S&P 500 futures were 0.40 points lower and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 20 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 4.25 points.

There's just a little bit of caution, it's just the beginning (of earnings season), said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.

We've got a lot more news to digest for the next couple of weeks.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters in Paris there is a very encouraging improvement in confidence in the overall stability of the financial system.

After meeting with French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, Geithner also said markets were functioning better, which he said was a good sign for the economy.

But the upbeat tone was confronted by a possible bankruptcy looming for small-business lender CIT Group Inc .

Talks between the government and CIT about a potential bailout collapsed on Wednesday, a reminder that fallout from the financial crisis and the recession is far from over.

In Paris, Geithner declined to comment directly on CIT.

Other data on tap for Thursday includes the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's release of its July business activity survey at 10 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a reading of -5.0 versus -2.2 in June.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)