Futures Hold Gains Despite Economic Reports

U.S stock index futures held modest gains Thursday despite a pair of weaker-than-expected economic reports.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims rose 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, according to the Labor Department, in line with expectations. The four-week moving average for new claims, dropped 5,500 to 363,750, the lowest since March and the second lowest since April 2008.

Housing starts unexpectedly fell 1.1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000 units, while gains from June were revised lower, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a reading of 757,000 units, according to a Reuters poll.

At 10 a.m. the Philadelphia Fed index, which measures changes in business growth, will be released. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast the decline in new orders slowed in August to give a reading of -5, up from -12.9 in July.

Facebook slumped ahead of the end to a lockup period. More than 270 million shares are expected to be unlocked at the market open, more than half of the 421 million shares that were sold in the company's IPO in May.

Among earnings, Wal-Mart declined after the big-box retailer forecast full-year earnings that could fall short of Wall Street expectations. Still, the Dow component topped profit estimates.

Sears rallied after the retailer posted a loss that matched expectations as lower expenses helped offset weaker-than-expected sales.

Apparel retailers Gap and Aeropostale , in addition to chipmaker Marvel Tech are scheduled to report earnings after the closing bell.

European shares traded lower in early trade on Thursday, as investors continued to book gains on the recent rally, which saw stock indices reach 5-month highs.

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

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Philadelphia Fed survey, e-commerce retail sales, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from Aeropostale, Gap, Marvel Tech
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, leading indicators; Earnings from Ann, JM Smuckers, Foot Locker

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