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Futures higher; jobs report in focus

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Thursday as traders looked to Friday's key employment report and reacted to comments on Wednesday from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who reiterated the possibility of raising rates in December, given supportive data.

Another key central bank leader, New York Fed President William Dudley, separately told reporters Wednesday that he would "completely agree" with Yellen on a December hike.

While more Fed speakers are scheduled for Thursday — including Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, the Philadelphia Fed's Patrick Harker and the Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart — analysts said Yellen's comments and the forthcoming jobs report are most important.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 276,000, above expectations. Third-quarter productivity increased at a 1.6 percent annual rate, while labor costs rose 1.4 percent.

Also, October payroll reductions fell 14 percent from September to 50,504, and were down 1.3 percent from the year-ago period, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Treasury yields held near recent highs, with the 10-year yield at 2.24 percent and the 2-year near 0.83 percent as of 8:40 a.m.

The U.S. dollar traded flat against major world currencies, with the euro slightly higher near $1.087.

Earnings season continued Thursday, with Celgene and SeaWorld Entertainment, among others, posting results before the open.

Disney, Kraft Heinz, Monster Beverage, News Corp., Tableau Software, Clovis Oncology, Dreamworks Animation, Fair Isaac, Glu Mobile, Shake Shack, TrueCar, Weight Watchers and Wingstop are among companies due to report after the bell.

In oil markets, Brent crude traded at around $48.62 a barrel, up mildly, while U.S. crude was at $46.35 a barrel, up 0.06 percent.

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In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index was around 0.7 percent higher on Thursday. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei finished 1 percent higher, while in China the Shanghai Composite closed 1.87 percent higher.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report