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Futures sharply higher, supported by China rebound

U.S. stocks were tipped to open higher on Thursday, as a recovery in battered Chinese stocks lifted sentiment, while focus remained on efforts to avert the collapse of Greece.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite stock index jumped almost 6 percent after Beijing delivered its latest salvo of measures to prop up a market that has crashed nearly 30 percent in the past month.

Read MoreChina rebound sets up Thursday trading

The Chinese Securities regulator on Thursday banned shareholders from selling large stakes in listed firms in a bid to stem a slide in Chinese stocks that has sparked fears across the globe about a protracted slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy.

In fact, the sharp selloff has put China risks firmly back in the spotlight, helping send Wall Street shares down almost 1.5 percent on Wednesday.

"Notwithstanding the overnight bonus rally across Asia, the outlook over the next few days is going to be 'interesting,'" Bill Blain, a strategist at Mint Partners, said in a note.

"Some folk are already screaming buy, buy, buy, and there is a vociferous element calling 'this is the bottom'," he said. "There are definitely bargains out there, and the selective brave have their buying boots on! This movie is not over yet."

The New York Stock Exchange
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The New York Stock Exchange

The recovery in Chinese stocks Thursday lifted Asian shares, while U.S. stock futures traded broadly higher in early European trade. Dow Jones industrial average stock futures were last up about 160 points – indicating a firm start for blue-chip stocks.

On the domestic front, weekly jobless claims data showed a slight increase to 297,000.

There are several Federal Reserve speakers on the calendar, while Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks on Friday.

Thursday's speakers include Fed Gov. Lael Brainard speaking at 10:15 a.m. ET on regulatory reform; Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota at 6:45 a.m. on fiscal policy; Kansas City Fed President Esther George at 12:30 p.m. on the economic outlook and monetary policy; and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans at 9:30 a.m.

Earnings are also likely to be in focus with PepsiCo and Walgreens Boots Alliance posting results before the bell. .

Pepsico—The beverage and snack maker reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.32 per share, 8 cents above estimates, with revenue also beating forecasts. Pepsi's profit margins expanded during the quarter, and it raised its full-year forecast although it adds that currency will have a negative impact of 11 percentage points on full-year profit.

Walgreens Boots Alliance—The drug store operator earned an adjusted $1.02 per share for its latest quarter, 15 cents above estimates, though revenue was shy of forecasts. Walgreens also raised its full-year earnings forecast, and increased its quarterly dividend by 6.7 percent to 36 cents per share.

Read More Early movers: PEP, AA, WBA, AVP, LB, AZN, MA & more

Bond yields rose, with the 10-year yield at 2.25 percent. The U.S. Treasury is scheduled to auction $13 billion 30-year bond auction at 1 p.m.

European shares, meanwhile, started the day on a strong footing, with focus remaining on developments in Greece.

Read MoreGreece seeks new EU loan deal in race to avert collapse

Athens on Wednesday formally applied for a three-year loan, with the government later on Thursday expected to present new reform proposals to secure further aid. Euro zone finance ministers will meet this weekend to discuss the reforms.

CNBC's Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.