US Stocks Seen Flat; Morgan Stanley Earnings Awaited

U.S stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Wall Street on Thursday, with upward momentum from Wednesday’s strong housing report pared by investor caution ahead of the start of a two-day EU summit.

Plans for an EU-wide banking regulator are likely to top the agenda at the summit, despite a report by the Financial Times saying the EU's top legal adviser had questioned the legality of its current plan. European shares were flat in early tradeon Thursday.

In the U.S., investor attention will focus on third quarter earnings from Morgan Stanley on Thursday. Analyst polled by Thomson Reuters forecast earnings per share of $0.24 on revenue of $7 billion for the third quarter, versus earnings of $1.14 on revenue of $9.9 billion a year previously.

Telecom firm Verizon posted better-than-expect third quarter results early on Thursday, helped by higher revenue from its wireless business. This boosted market sentiment on technology stocks after tepid results from IBM

and on Wednesday. Google and

Microsoft will report earnings on Thursday after the closing bell.

Macro data out on Thursday includes first-time claims for jobless benefits from the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. New York time. Economists polled by Reuters forecast 362,000 new claims in the week ending October 13, up from 339,000 in the previous week.

At 10 a.m. the Philadelphia Fed index, which measures changes in business growth, will be released. Economists polled by Reuters forecast new orders grew in October to give a reading of 1, up from -1.9 in September.

In addition, the Conference Board releases its leading economic indicators index for September at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters forecast a 0.2 percent rise, compared with a 1.9 percent fall in August.

— By's Katy Barnato