Also, U.S. producer prices gained 1.1 percent in December, after rising 0.8 percent in November, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the PPI to rise again by 0.8 percent.
Also, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $38.3 billion in November from $38.4 billion the previous month, which was more than expected. The slimmer gap was the result of the biggest rise in exports in two years. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected the trade deficit to widen to $40.5 billion.
The Federal Reserve’s monthly “Beige book” release of economic conditions across the country showed the nation's economy strengthened at the end of the year.
The Treasury will sell $13 billion in 30-year bonds today, with the results available shortly after 1 p.m.
Dow component Intel reports fourth-quarter earnings after the bell.
Analysts expect the company to have earned 53 cents per share in the fourth quarter, on revenues of $11.4 billion.
Shares of Marathon Oil surged in the pre-market after the copmany announced it would shed its refinery and pipeline operations into a separate company.
General Electric rose in the pre-market after news its energy division was buying a power conversion companycalled Lineage Power Holdings for about $520 million. GE is CNBC's parent company.
Sara Lee's shares jumped after news Kohlberg Kravis Robers may possibly partner with another party to bid for the food group, according to Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the situation.
European shares slipped back from 28-month highs on Thursday, ahead of yesterday's rate decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, but after a successful Spanish bond auction.
Spain's banking sector does not need more government support and the country will not need a bailout from the European Union, Elena Salgado, vice-president of the Spanish government and finance minister, told CNBC in an interview Thursday.
On Tap This Week:
THURSDAY: 30-year Treasury bond auction; after-the-bell earnings from Intel.
FRIDAY: CPI, retail sales, industrial production, consumer sentiment, business inventories, Richmond Fed president speaks; before-the-bell earnings from JPMorgan.
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