Futures Rise After Jobless Claims, Housing Starts

U.S. stock index futures added to gains following reports that showed weekly jobless claims tumbled to a five-year low and housing starts jumped to their highest rate since June 2008.

On the economic front, jobless claims fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, hitting a five-year low, according to the Labor Department. The four-week moving average declined to 359,250.

And housing starts jumped 12.1 percent to a 954,000-unit annual rate in December, accelerating to its fastest pace since June 2008, according to the Commerce Department.

Among earnings, Citigroup tumbled after the banking giant posted a wide earnings miss, with the new CEO citing a "challenging" environment due to increased regulatory pressures and legal costs.

Bank of America topped expectations but reported a profit that was lower than a year ago, pressured by mortgage-related problems.

On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan both posted results that beat expectations. (Read More: Forget Earnings: What Wall Street's Really Watching)

Rival financial giant Morgan Stanley is scheduled to post earnings Friday.

Dow component United Health posted earnings that matched expectations and topped revenue estimates. The health insurer also its forecast for 2013 revenue growth and added earnings would be in a range of slightly down to up 4 percent. Still, shares edged lower.

Intel, American Express and Capital One are scheduled to post earnings after the closing bell.

Boeing slumped after the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing 787 planes until the aircraft are proven to be safe to fly following a string of issues in recent weeks.

At 10 a.m. the Philadelphia Fed index, which measures changes in business growth, will be released. Economists polled by Reuters forecast the rise in new orders increased in January to give a reading of 5.8, up from 4.6 in December.

"We doubt the last minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff tax increases did much to boost business confidence in early January, not when it only raised the prospect of an equally disruptive debt ceiling stand-off within another few weeks," wrote Amna Asaf, an economist at Capital Economics in a note.

After watching the prolonged impasse over the U.S. "fiscal cliff", investors fear a repeat as U.S. lawmakers haggle over raising the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Philadelphia Fed survey, natural gas inventories, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed balance sheet, money supply; Earnings from American Express, Intel, Capital One
FRIDAY: General Electric, Schlumberger, Morgan Stanley

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