U.S. stock index futures signaled a softer open on Thursday as investors digested mixed U.S. data that was mostly worse than expectations.
The core CPI, the key figure for the Fed that excludes more volatile food and energy prices, gained 0.2 percent. However, CPI data for January was down more than expected at 0.7 percent. Expectations were for a further sharp drop of 0.6 percent month on month, the biggest fall since 2008, driven by energy prices to leave the year-on-year rate in negative territory.
Durable goods orders figures for January increased a more-than-expected 2.8 percent, after a 3.4 percent decline in the prior month.
Initial claims for unemployment for the week of Feb. 15, came in at 313,000. Analysts had expected the figure to increase moderately to 285,000 from 283,000 the week prior.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said core figures in the data were positive. "All that considered as we head into the open."
He also said that "energy should be very interesting" as oil gained on Wednesday despite negative news.
Crude oil traded just below $50 a barrel and Brent held above $61 a barrel on Thursday.
Earlier, futures pointed to a higher open as investors welcomed comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech to Congress, which hinted that the central bank was not in a rush to hike interest rates.
Concluding a two-day series of testimonies to various committees within U.S. Congress, Yellen said there would be no interest rate hike for "at least the next couple of FOMC meetings." She said an eye would be kept on the improving jobs picture and inflation.