Earnings, oil to grab center stage on Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to higher open Thursday, amid more earnings and steadying oil prices, following Wednesday's gains.

European stock indexes were narrowly mixed amid European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's press conference.

Draghi said risks to euro area growth remain tilted to the downside, and that inflation rates could turn negative again in the coming months before picking up in the second half of the year, Dow Jones reported. The newswire also said Draghi expects rates at present or lower levels for an extended period. He added it is essential to preserve appropriate accommodation as long as needed.

The euro rose to trade near $1.137. The dollar index traded nearly half a percent lower, with the yen at 109.71 yen against the greenback as of 8:49 a.m. ET. Treasury yields were mostly higher.

Earlier, the ECB kept interest rates unchanged.

A bevy of U.S. companies reported earnings early on, including General Motors and Verizon Communications. After Wall Street closes there will be results from Alphabet, Microsoft and Starbucks.

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Weekly jobless claims came in at 247,000. The Philly Fed Index came in at minus 1.6 in April.

The FHFA Housing Price Index showed a 0.4 percent rise in February, after a downwardly revised 0.4 percent rise in January.

Later in the morning, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for March is due.

The U.S. Treasury, meanwhile, will auction five-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Crude oil futures traded flat on Thursday, on media reports that Russia and Iran had said they were ready to further increase oil production.


"With oil now trading at its highest level since early December and showing little sign of easing up, despite no deal being reached in Doha and the strike in Kuwait being resolved, I wonder whether what we're seeing here is partially a demand side story, with Chinese data having improved as of late, and partially an assumption that further supply disruptions are on the horizon," Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a report on Thursday.

Asian stock indexes finished mostly higher overnight, with the Nikkei 225 up 2.7 percent. The Shanghai composite underperformed, falling about two-thirds of a percent.

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