U.S. stock futures eased losses after an unexpectedly large jobless in weekly jobless claims.
Futures had been under pressure before the open as investors became concerned China could tighten monetary policy further, and despite a surge in profits reported by Morgan Stanley.
Jobless claims dropped by 37,000 to 404,000 for the week ended Jan. 15, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Economists at Reuters had expected claims to fall to 420,000 from 445,000 the week before.
Stocks had their worst day in nearly two months Wednesday, with financial stocks among the leading laggards after disappointing earnings for the financial sector, including from and Citigroup the day before.
Morgan Stanley's shares gained after reporting profits soared 60 percentthanks to strong retail brokerage fees offseting poor trading results from its fixed-income division. Other brokerages have suffered as a result of sliding fixed-income trading profits.
Also in the financial sector, Huntington Bancshares fell despite reporting profit results that beat expectations. The regional bank, based in Columbus Ohio, earned 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of 56 cents a share a year earlier.
Googleprovides quarterly numbers after the closing bell and was expected to report a 22 percent jump in fourth-quarter revenue.
eBay will also be in the spotlight on Thursday after the group provided investors with a bullish 2011 profit outlook after the bell on Wednesday.