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U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Thursday, as investors geared up for speeches from leading Federal Reserve members, as well as awaiting news from the European Central Bank's latest Governing Council meeting.
Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 10 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.75 points and rose 9 points, respectively.
The European Central Bank (ECB) left its benchmark interest rate unchanged Thursday and made no reference to the anticipated wind-down of its stimulus program.
President Mario Draghi had said at the last ECB press conference in July that discussions over the future of the central bank's quantitative easing (QE) program could be expected in "the fall" - prompting many to speculate that he could detail a reduction in September.
Investors are watching this economic event closely to see if the institution provides any clues or debate on the timing of an exit from its ultra-loose monetary policy program.
Meanwhile, a number of officials from the U.S. Federal Reserve are set to deliver remarks on Thursday.
In Georgia, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic is set to participate in a moderated discussion on his views on the economy later on in the day; while after the bell, New York Fed President William Dudley will be in New York, where he is set to deliver remarks at a Money Marketeers of New York University event.
In addition, Kansas City Fed President Esther George will also be expected to comment on the outlook of the U.S. economy outlook when she is at the Omaha Economic Forum in the evening; while Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will be discussing monetary policy at an event in Pittsburgh, around midday.
Meanwhile, investors will also be paying close attention to news coming out of Washington D.C.. In the last few days, investors have been digesting the comments surrounding the U.S.' reaction to North Korea, in addition to news surrounding the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, had announced that they were prepared to vote in favor of a three-month debt limit increase. Following this announcement, it was reported by the two Democrats that President Donald Trump would support a debt ceiling extension and government funding plan.
The Labor Department said on Thursday that nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 1.5 percent annualized rate. Productivity was previously reported to have increased at a 0.9 percent pace in the April-June period. It grew at a 0.1 percent rate in the first quarter.
On the commodities front, oil prices fluctuated as investors remained cautious in light of the potential chaos which could be triggered by Hurricane Irma. At 8:58 a.m. ET, U.S. crude traded lower at $48.90, while Brent was up at $54.30.
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