U.S. stock index futures turned positive Thursday following news that jobless claims fell and as investors digested a handful of mixed earnings news.
Weekly claims for unemployment benefits fell 12,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 367,000, according to the Labor Department, signaling some optimism in the nation's battered jobs market.
The jobless claims report comes ahead of the closely watched government non-farm payroll report on Friday. Nonfarm payrolls are expected to post a gain of 150,000 in January, according to a Reuters survey, with the unemployment rate seen holding steady at 8.5 percent.
Meanwhile, growth in U.S. nonfarm productivity slowed in the fourth quarter, increasing at a 0.7 percent annual rate, according to the Labor Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.8 percent.
Drugmaker Merck reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and expects relatively flat 2012 results.
Dow Chemical slumped after the chemical company posted a quarterly loss due to a one-time charge that caused it to pay higher taxes at its Brazilian operations.
Deutsche Bank fell after the financial firm posted a loss amid the ongoing sovereign debt crisis.
MasterCard edged higher after the credit-card provider posted earnings that topped estimates for the seventh-straight quarter.
Abercrombie & Fitch plunged after the teen apparel retailer
Menawhile, Facebook made its long-awaited filingwith the SEC for an IPO. In the filing, the social networking giant said it hopes to raise up to $5 billion, though that number could go higher. The stock is expected to trade under the symbol "FB," though the exchange it will be traded on has yet to be determined.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on the state of the U.S. economy before the House Budget Committee at 3.00 pm.
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Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Fed's Fisher speaks
FRIDAY: Employment situation, factory orders, ISM non-mfg index; Earnings from Clorox
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