Futures higher amid earnings, Yellen

U.S. stocks were tipped to open higher on Thursday with earnings, the second leg of Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress and a European Central Bank meeting all in focus.

Better-than-expected earnings results from Intel and Netflix after the closing bell on Wednesday, and news that Greece's parliament voted for key legislation to secure a third bailout, could set a positive tone for the U.S. open.

The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
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The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Stock futures on all three major U.S. stock markets traded in positive territory, with Dow Jones industrial average futures up over 80 points in early London trade.

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Investors have a slew of earnings to digest. Goldman Sachs,Citigroup, Blackstone, Charles Schwab, UnitedHealth, eBay and Phillip Morris are among the firms reporting second-quarter earnings before the market open.

Goldman Sachs posted quarterly earnings that fell sharply from the previous year, hit by a large litigation charge.

Citigroup delivered quarterly results that topped analysts' expectations on both the top and bottom lines, for the largest quarterly profit in 8 years.

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Google, Schlumberger, Mattel, Advanced Micro, Celanese and Cintas are expected to report after the closing bell.

U.S. weekly jobless claims came in at 281,000, better than the 285,000 estimate.

The U.S. 10-year treasury yield held near 2.38 percent, with the 2-year at 0.67 percent.

The dollar gained about half a percent as the euro fell below $1.09 to an eight-week low.

The Philadelphia Fed survey and NAHB homebuilders' survey are due at 10 a.m.

In addition to the earnings and data, markets await Yellen's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. On Wednesday, Yellen reiterated recent comments that interest rates are likely to rise this year.

"These tend to go largely the same way as yesterday's event but should still be monitored closely for any surprises, of which there were none yesterday," Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at currency trading firm Oanda, said in a note.

The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged. At a press conference following the decision, ECB President Mario Draghi said that the central bank decided "to grant in principle a 3-year ESM stability support to Greece, subject to the completion of relevant national procedures."

Draghi also confirmed the ECB would increase emergency funding to Greece by 900 million euros ($978 million) over one week.

Greece's parliament on Wednesday night approved a stringent bailout program amid violent protests. European finance ministers, meanwhile, are expected to hold a conference call early on Thursday to agree a plan to provide Athens with a bridging loan to finance its immediate debt service payments until bailout funds are confirmed.

The outcome of the vote in Greece helped European shares open the day higher, while Asian stocks also rallied with China's stock market ending the day up 0.5 percent – recouping some of the previous day's sharp losses.