U.S. stock -index futures rose on Thursday, as weekly jobless claims cast a positive light on the labor market, with the data coming on one of the heaviest days of the season for U.S. and European second-quarter earnings.
Futures held modest gains after the government reported weekly jobless claims came in at 284,000 last week, less than the 308,000 estimated by analysts.
"The net is this number in improving; the four-week average went down by 7,000 to 302,000. That smooths out some of the summer volatility and is a significant positive," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores fell in pre-market trading after the discount retailer said CEO Bill Simon would leave the company.
Around 50 S&P 500-listed companies will report on Thursday, with Caterpillar shares falling in early New York trading after the maker of earth-moving machinery reported a second-quarter earnings beat, but fell short on revenue.
Ford Motor shares gained after the auto manufacturer reported Read Morea better-than-expected second-quarter profit; General Motors shares fell after the car maker reported a lower-than-expected second-quarter profit.