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Jobs Thursday for US stocks, with Greece as backdrop

U.S. stock futures ticked up on Thursday, suggesting a cautiously positive start for stocks ahead of the closely-watched nonfarm payrolls report, as the Greek crisis takes a back seat for now.

The June jobs data, due out at 08:30 a.m. ET, is released a day early this month due to Friday's Independence Day holiday.

Analysts polled by Reuters estimate the U.S. economy created 230,000 new jobs compared with 280,000 in May, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent.

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Mitul Kotecha, head of currency strategy, Asia Pacific at Barclays, told CBNC that he was expecting a payrolls number of 250,000 – stronger than the consensus.

"A lot of indicators have been suggesting a continued improvement in the jobs market," he said on Thursday. "We're expecting wage growth of 0.2 percent (month-on-month), not dramatic but it is moving in the right direction and should be sufficient for the Fed (U.S. Federal Reserve) to lift off on rates in September."

Ahead of the data, Dow Jones industrial average stock futures traded about 30 points higher, giving up some of their early gains as European stock markets traded flat.

China's stock market, meanwhile, continued its slide, closing 3.5 percent lower as a relaxation in rules on using borrowed money to invest in the stock market failed to boost investor sentiment which has soured in recent weeks.

U.S. stocks closed broadly higher on Wednesday, lifted by better-than-expected data and hopes of a resolution between Greece and its creditors. On Wednesday, Greece became the first developed economy to default on a loan with the International Monetary Fund.

Read MoreGreek crisis: Tsipras and creditors in standoff

Talks between Greece and its international lenders are now postponed until after Sunday's referendum on the country's bailout terms.

The crisis in Greece has fueled concerns that the country could become the first to leave the 19-member euro zone -- an uncertainty that has kept global markets on edge.

In addition to the payrolls data, markets also get weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. and factory orders for May at 10 a.m.

Elsewhere, the dollar was a tad softer against the euro at 1.1061 and a touch firmer against the Japanese yen at 123.48.