U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept key interest rates unchanged as traders eyed the confirmation hearing of Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin.
The ECB also said it would keep it would continue its asset purchase program at 80 billion euros per month until March, then reduce it 60 billion euros per month. The central bank reiterated, however, its willingness to further intervene should the European economy worsen. The pan European Stoxx 600 Index was around 0.25 percent lower on Thursday.
Stateside, Congress may ask Mnuchin questions about his role in his former firm's foreclosures on homeowners, but markets are also going to watch for the former Goldman Sachs partner's comments about the dollar. Comments about China and its currency will also be of big interest.
Traders also will take note of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comments when she speaks about the economic outlook and conduct of monetary policy in San Francisco at 8 p.m. ET.
On the data front Thursday, housing starts spiked 11.3 percent in December, while initial jobless claims fell to 234,000.
CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report