In economic news, weekly jobless claims came in at 267,000.
Treasury yields held little changed, with the 2-year yield at 0.99 percent and the 10-year yield near 2.26 percent.
The U.S. dollar index was about 0.3 percent lower against major world currencies, with the euro near $1.095 and the yen at 120.42 yen against the greenback as of 8:35 a.m., ET.
Oil will be in focus, after a bounce in crude prices helped propel U.S. stocks to closer sharply higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones ending up triple digits. Natural gas inventories are due later in the morning.
U.S. crude prices rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday, headed for a 9 percent weekly gain in the lead-up to Christmas, as the market tightened on the back of falling supplies and exports.
Front-month West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures trading at around $37.70 per barrel early on Thursday, set for the biggest weekly gain since early October. Internationally traded Brent futures trading at around $37.60 a barrel, as U.S. crude defended the small premium it regained this week for the first time in around a year.