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Big bank earnings in the limelight on Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to slightly higher open Thursday as investors eyed oil prices and earnings from major financial institutions.

U.S. crude oil futures traded about 0.8 percent higher around $42.10 a barrel as of 8:45 a.m. ET.

Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.

Several big financials posted quarterly results on Thursday, including Bank of America and BlackRock.

Bank of America reported an 18 percent slide in quarterly profit as concerns about a global economic slowdown and uncertainty about the pace of U.S. interest rate increases dampened bond and stock trading.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, posted a 20 percent drop in first-quarter profit on Thursday amid a dramatic reversal in financial markets.

Wells Fargo reported a 7 percent fall in quarterly profit as the third-largest U.S. bank by assets set aside more money to cover bad loans, mainly to energy companies.

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Citigroup will then report on Friday.

Bank stocks rose on Wednesday after JPMorgan Chase reported better-than-expected numbers. The Dow-listed bank's first-quarter earnings per share came in at $1.35, while revenue totaled $24.08 billion.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced on Wednesday that five U.S. major banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, lacked resolution plans that showed they could go bankrupt without disrupting the broader financial system. The lenders have until October 2016 to rewrite their plans.

The consumer price index for March showed a 0.1 percent rise.

The so-called core CPI, which strips out food and energy costs, inched up 0.1 percent, the smallest increase since August and followed a 0.3 percent increase in February, Reuters said. In the 12 months through March, the core CPI rose 2.2 percent after gaining 2.3 percent in February.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 253,000, revisiting a level last seen in 1973.

The day will also bring natural gas inventories.

Ahead of a scheduled public appearance in Chicago, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart on Thursday said on Bloomberg Radio he no longer expects to advocate for a U.S. interest rate hike in April, but added there is still time for two or three rate hikes this year, Reuters reported. If there is no rebound this quarter from apparently weak first-quarter growth, he said he would advocate caution in interest rate policy.

In terms of speeches, Governor Jerome Powell will testify before some Senate Subcommittees at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday on changes in the fixed income markets. Plus, the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Christine Lagarde, will hold a media briefing after the fund releases its latest Global Policy Agenda.

Asian equities rallied overnight, taking their lead from Wall Street trade on Thursday.

European shares traded mixed on Thursday, with Brent and WTI crude oil futures gaining ahead of a high-profile meeting between oil-producing nations at the weekend. The meeting in Qatar is aimed at freezing output at current levels.

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Reuters contributed to this report.