NYSE and Nasdaq futures showed gains Thursday, ahead of the weekly unemployment report in the U.S., and following interest-rate announcements from Europe.
European stocks were trading to the upside before Wall Street's open. Italian and Spanish bond auctions met with better-than-expected demand, and yields dropped.
The euro bounced off Wednesday's lows, edging higher against the dollar.
The Bank of England held its key interest rate steady at 0.5%, as expected.
The European Central Bank also kept key interest rates unchanged, after two cuts in a row. Here, too, economists had anticipated no change.
In Asia, indices closed lower in Wednesday's session. China's inflation rate fell to a 14-month low, leading to speculation that Beijing would ease monetary policy.
In the U.S., the Labor Department releases its weekly data on unemployment claims at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists expect to see 375,000 new filings, up slightly from last week.
Also at 8:30, the Commerce Department issues its retail sales data. Economists are eyeing a gain of 0.3% in December.
At 10 a.m. is the November business inventories report from the Commerce Department, expected to show an increase of 0.4%. This report generally doesn't get much market attention.
The rate on the 30-year Treasury fell to 2.96% ahead of today's $13 billion auction, slated for 1 p.m.
Crude oil advanced $1.33, to $102.20 per barrel in electronic trade. Gold zoomed $18.10 per ounce in early Comex trade, to $1,657.70.
India-based info tech outsourcer Infosys (INFY) beat third-quarter earnings views, but slashed its full-year forecast, citing slower revenue growth. It singled out Europe as a slow-growth region. Shares tumbled $5.52, or 9.7%, to $51.35 in the premarket. Prior to the announcement, Infosys shares had rallied 5.5% this week in heavier volume.
S&P 500 component Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH), which also performs IT services from India, slumped along with Infosys. Cognizant was down $2.22, 3.2%, to $68.06 in premarket trade.
DJIA component Chevron (CVX) fell $1.75, 1.62%, to $106.02. The company warned about a fourth-quarter profit decline, saying higher margins and a refinery sale boosted the bottom line in the previous quarter.
Bank of America (BAC) continued its rally, advancing $0.19, 2.8%, to $7.06 ahead of the bell. Going into Thursday's session, the stock was up 11.2% for the week, following last week's gain of the same amount.
Another big bank, Morgan Stanley (MS) also showed hefty gains in the premarket. Shares were up as much as $0.40, or 2.3%, to $17.50.
There was more bad news for Sears Holdings (SHLD), and shares were pummeled in early trade. Business lender CIT Group (CIT) said it would no longer give loans to Sears suppliers. Sears recently said it would close as many as 120 stores. Its shares plunged $2.95, 9%, to $29.95 in early trade.
J.P. Morgan upgraded cloud-based data storage firm EMC (EMC) to Overweight from Neutral, citing market share gains. The analysts said the company is well-positioned to grow in the mid-range business category. EMC shares added $0.66, or 3%, to $22.75 ahead of the bell.