On the other side of the earnings picture, electronics retailer Best Buy watched its shares get crushed in premarket trading after it said holiday sales were poor.
Thirty-one S&P 500 companies have reported earnings so far and, of these, around 20 have beaten the Street's consensus revenue estimates, with a similar number beating earnings estimates.
"The interesting thing to note is that the worst sector for revenue and earnings misses has been the retail sector, which has accounted for about half of the earnings disappointments thus far," said Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid in a research note on Thursday.
"It's still clearly early days but this is a trend worth noting following a number of recent profit downgrades and earnings misses from retailers and consumer discretionary stocks," he added.
There will also be the NAHB homebuilder sentiment index, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing survey for January and November's capital inflows data.
In addition, Ben Bernanke will give one of his last speeches as U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, entitled "The Fed yesterday, today and tomorrow", at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Other speakers include the San Francisco Fed's John Williams, former Deputy Bank of England Governor Paul Tucker and Harvard University's Kenneth Rogoff.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, quashing the threat of a government shutdown and potentially ending four years of crisis-driven budgeting.
—By CNBC's Katy Barnato