Wall Street futures higher as retailers report

NEW YORK -- Stock futures are rising after some major U.S. retail chains reported September sales that topped expectations and a day before a crucial monthly jobs report.

Dow futures are up 59 points to 13,485. The broader S&P 500 futures are up 8 points to 1,452.40. Nasdaq futures are up 13 points to 2,821.25.

Investors are also awaiting news from the monthly policy meeting of the European Central Bank. The ECB left its main interest rate at the current record low of 0.75 percent.

In the U.S., the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with only modest hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications increased last week by 4,000 from the previous week's level of 363,000. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000.

Stocks across Europe were marginally higher ahead of ECB head Mario Draghi's news conference, which is being held in Slovenia, one of the euro's 17 countries.

Germany's DAX was up 0.1 percent at 7,326.12, while the CAC-40 in France was up 0.3 percent to 3,413.52. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent 5,831.78.

"Tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls are likely to be seen as the major event of the week for many investors," said Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets. "Given the combination of low volumes and limited price action, many may simply elect to sit on their hands until then."

Draghi and the U.S. data are also containing activity in other markets. The euro was barely higher at $1.2939 while the benchmark New York oil price was up 28 cents at $88.42 a barrel. The oil price fell $3.75, or 4.1 percent, on Wednesday, its biggest decline since May 4 amid concerns over the global economy.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to close at 8,824.59 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose nearly 0.1 percent to 20,907.95. Chinese markets remained on holiday.