Stocks headed for a higher open on Thursday as resurgent oil prices lifted energy shares and sentiment was underpinned by optimism about the Federal Reserve's push to lower borrowing costs.

Shares of Exxon Mobil climbed 1.2 percent to $70 before the bell as U.S. front-month crude jumped almost 6 percent to $50.92 a barrel. Shares of ConocoPhillips jumped 2.3 percent to $39.20.

Bank shares also headed higher, with Bank of America up 6.4 percent to $8.16.

Citigroup said it was proposing an exchange offer of preferred shares that could give the U.S. government a 36 percent stake in the bank. As part of the plan Citigroup would conduct a reverse stock split, reducing its share count and boosting its share price.

Citi shares rose 6 percent at $3.26 in pre-market trade.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve surprised Wall Street by announcing it would buy long-term Treasury bonds for the first time in four decades in a bid to revive the recession-hit economy. Optimism about the move, which fueled a recovery in stocks on Wednesday, continued to bolster sentiment.

The bears are likely to stay on the run, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners. The fact that the Fed made these firm commitments will help blossom some of the seeds that are beginning to sprout toward a recovery.

S&P 500 futures were up 6.9 points and were above 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 added 51 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.0 points.

An announcement by HSBC Holdings that Europe's biggest bank performed strongly in January, ahead of its expectations, also underpinned some of the optimism about banks.

General Electric is among stocks to watch. The company said it expects its finance arm GE Capital to be profitable in the first quarter and the rest of this year. The parent company's shares rose by 6 percent to $11 in premarket trade.

Top drags will include FedEX Corp , down 5 percent to $41 before the bell, after the package delivery company posted a 75 percent slide in quarterly profit and gave gloomy outlook.

On the economic front, a March reading on factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region is due at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)