U.S. stock index futures added to gains following some positive signs for the economy in jobless claims and the trade deficit.
Futures rose after new weekly unemployment claims fell a more-than-expected 27,000 to 451,000. At the same time, the trade deficit narrowed to $42.78 billion, better than the expectation of $47 billion and a positive sign for economic growth.
European stocks managed to inch up, with mining firms pulling the major indexes into the green. Asian stocks ended mostly higher, but Chinese indexes saw significant declines.
At 2:30 pm, the Federal Reserve will release details of its balance sheet, which will give a snapshot of the central bank's lending to the financial system.
In other news, the UK's Financial Services Authority fined Goldman Sachs $27 million for not notifying British authorities of an investigation in the U.S.
Goldman shares edged higher in light premarket trading.
Men's Warehouse shares should be active after the retailer said quarterly profit grew 7.7 percent on higher sales and improved margins.
The United States fell two places down the World Economic Forum's "Global Competitiveness Report." It is now fourth place, behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore.
And in the retail sector, Toys 'R Us unwrapped plans to vastly expand its reach this Christmas by adding 600 "pop-up" stores, more than 260 Toy 'R Us shops within Babies 'R Us stores—and an additional eight outlet stores.