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More housing data to dominate Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures indicated a softer open on Thursday, ahead of existing home sales and following a muted response to Wednesday's Fed minutes releasey, which confirmed market expectations on rate hike timing.

Following mixed housing data released earlier this week, existing home sales data is due 10 a.m. ET and is expected to show a 1 percent gain, to 5.24 million units.

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 274,000, above expectations of an increase to 271,000 from the prior week's 264,000. The 4-week moving average remains the lowest since April 2000.

Treasury yields edged up slightly after the unemployment report.

Manufacturing PMI is expected at 9:45 a.m. Finally, the Conference Board's leading indicator index, which forecasts future economic activity, for April at 10 a.m., is expected to register the 15th consecutive increase, given a decline in initial unemployment claims.

The Fed minutes showed policymakers mostly brushed aside the wobbly start the U.S. economy has had in 2015, attributing the lack of growth to "transitory" factors that will abate soon. However, only a few policymakers supported a June rate hike.

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"Last night's release of the minutes to April's Federal Open Market Committee meeting offered few surprises, as the Committee largely maintained its judgement that growth, the labor market and pricing pressures would need to pick up before any rate hike could be contemplated," said Robert Kuenzel , director of euro area economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets Europe, in a note on Thursday.

Earnings expected on Thursday after the bell include Hewlett-Packard, Gap and Intuit.

Best Buy reported adjusted quarterly profit of 37 cents per share, 8 cents above estimates, with revenue beating forecasts, as well. Comparable-store sales were up 0.6 percent, compared to consensus estimates of a 0.1 percent increase

Hewlett-Packard is selling 51 percent of its China-based data networking operation to China's Tsinghua Holdings.

Salesforce beat estimates by 2 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 16 cents per share, while revenue was in line with forecasts. The business software provider also increased its full-year forecast on increased subscription and services revenue.

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European equities were mostly lower on Thursday as investors digested fresh data from the euro zone. Flash manufacturing and services PMI data for the 19-currency single currency zone showed the region's economy continued to lose momentum in May.

CNBC's Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.