US Markets

Wall Street shrugs off Greece fears, watches retail sales

Ukraine cease-fire deal helping world markets

U.S. stock index futures signaled a higher open on Thursday, following gains in Europe on the back of strong bank earnings and a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.

Data expected Thursday includes retail sales figures for January at 08:30 a.m. ET, which are expected to decline for the second consecutive month, although when excluding vehicles and gasoline, sales are expected to post a moderate increase.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The usual weekly jobless claims will also be released at 08:30 a.m. ET and business inventories will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Major U.S. companies due to report ahead of market open include Dr. Pepper Snapple, Kellogg, McGraw-Hill Financial, Nielsen, Hospira, Avon Products, AllianceBernstein and Time. AIG, CBS, Kraft Foods, Groupon, King Digital and Zynga are all due after the bell.

European stocks were comfortably higher on Thursday after Swiss bank Credit Suisse and French lender Societe Generale posted jumps in their fourth-quarter net profit.

Read MoreSocGen profit shoots up, cuts Russia exposure

Shares in car maker Renault were also sharply higher after it reported a tripling of full-year profit last year and highlighted more improvement in the year ahead.

Aside from earnings, a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine starting February 15 was agreed Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin said both leaders had agreed on withdrawal of heavy weapons from the east Ukraine region affected by the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine military.

Cancelling Greek debt could cause contagion: SocGen

However Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis's meeting with other euro zone finance ministers did not yield a deal Wednesday. The finance ministers were unable to even agree on a joint statement on the next steps to take. Talks will resume Monday, but time is running out as Greece's current bailout program ends on February 28.

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher, who is due to retire in March, said he was favor of broad changes that would see power moved away from the New York Fed, in a speech on Wednesday.

Fisher, who was addressing a New York audience for likely the last time before stepping down, again warned against delaying an interest rate hike in the face of weak inflation, according to Reuters.