(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on the Wall Street as investors awaited the latest minutes of Federal Reserve meeting and weekly jobless claims data came in better than expected.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 55 points to 13,481. The Nasdaq futures added 13.75 points to 2,821.75. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 7.10 points to 1,451.80.
On the U.S. economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims increased 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended September 29 from a revised 363,000, while economists projected 370,000 applications.
A data from the Commerce Department may show factory goods orders for dropped 6 percent after a rise of 2.8 percent in July.
At 2 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its September 12-13 policy-setting committee meeting.
In European news, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility will remain unchanged at 0.75 percent and 1.50 percent respectively. Investors keenly anticipate remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi, who is due to speak at 8.30 am ET.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended higher following better-than-expected reports on private sector employment and service-sector activity.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: TGT, MAR, ISCA, NUVA, AVY, TJX, KSS, COST, WTSLA
In corporate news, Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) gained 2.38 percent after the company said September comparable-store sales rose 2.1 percent and it is on-track to attain its third-quarter sales and profit targets.
Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR) added 2.05 percent in premarket after the lodging company posted better-than-forecast quarterly results.
International Speedway Corp. (NASDAQ:ISCA) tumbled 8.65 percent in premarket after the owner of motorsports entertainment facilities posted a quarterly loss and warned its 2012 non-GAAP earnings will be below its forecast of $1.50 per share.
NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ:NUVA) slumped 29.71 percent after the medical device company said it expects third-quarter revenue below its prior view, also trailing market expectations, citing unusually high account churn and increased delays and denials from insurance payers.
Avery Dennison Corp. (NYSE:AVY) retreated 5.09 percent after the labeling and packaging company terminated agreement with 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) related to the sale of its Office and Consumer Products business.
TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE:TJX) rose 1.66 percent in premarket after the off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions posted a 6 percent increase in comparable store sales for September, driven by customer traffic.
Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS) lost 2.87 percent in premarket after the specialty department store said comparable store sales last month declined 2.7 percent. The company backed its third-quarter earnings outlook.
Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST) reported a 6 percent growth in comparable sales for the month of September, positively impacted by inflation in gasoline prices and foreign currencies. Shares inched hihjer in premarket.
Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ:WTSLA) said it continues to urge its shareholders to reject efforts by Clinton Group to replace its experienced board members with Clinton Group's hand-picked nominees who lack relevant experience.
European markets traded moderately higher, with Germany's DAX flat at 7,321.84. France's CAC40 rose 0.21 percent to trade at 3,413.16. U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.13 percent to trade at 5,833.20.
Among Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.89 percent to end at 8,824.59. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.09 percent to close at 20,907.95. India's BSE Sensex finished at 19,058.15, up 1.00 percent. China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is closed for a public holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures gained 0.81 percent to $88.85 per barrel. Gold futures rose 0.87 percent to $1,795.2 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro advanced 0.57 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2979. The British pound rose 0.37 percent against the greenback to 1.6135, and the dollar added 0.09 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.5500.