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US futures points to flat open after ECB rates decision, economic data

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U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday as traders digested data and the latest monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank.

The central bank left rates unchanged and said it would increase its quantitative easing program should the region's economic outlook worsen.

"No firework, no noise as expected from the ECB," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets in London.

"Basically, Mario Draghi is trying to ward off his quantitative easing plan and this has become an uphill battle for him. The reason is simple because it is difficult to write off the positive impact of growing inflation and growth," he said in a note.

On the data front, initial jobless claims bounced back from 44-year lows, with import prices rising 0.2 percent.

In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index fell 0.24 percent on Thursday.

On the earnings front, Staples reported quarterly results before the bell, sending the stock about 4 percent lower in the premarket. El Pollo Loco is among companies set to report after the bell.

In oil markets, Brent crude traded at around $52.35 a barrel on Thursday, down 1.43 percent, while U.S. crude was around $49.45 a barrel, down 1.65 percent.