(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a flat open on the Wall Street as investors watched for progress on budget talks in Washington ahead of a key jobs data.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures dipped 3.00 points to 13,021. The Nasdaq futures shed 4.25 points to 2,633.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures slipped 1.30 points to 1,407.
On the U.S. economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits last week were fewer than forecast, a government data showed. The data comes a day after the ADP National Employment report - a measure of the monthly change in non-farm private employment - showed that U.S. companies added fewer jobs than expected.
Jobless claims fell 25,000 to 370,000 for the week ended Dec. 1 from a revised 395,000, and also came in lower than economists expectations of 380,000 applications.
The keenly-awaited U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data and unemployment rate are due on Friday.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank kept the key interest rate at a record-low of 0.75 percent even as markets look for remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi for any hints regarding future monetary policy.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed on a mixed note as investors digested better-than-expected service-sector data even as focus remained on negotiations over a deal to avert the the looming "fiscal cliff". Investors continue to remain concerned over whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach an agreement to address the so-called "fiscal cliff". President Barack Obama has reiterated his push for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: BRCM, GRMN, LULU, MW, SFD, HRB, FNSR
In corporate news, Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) added 1.11 percent in premarket after the system-on-a-chip (SoC) and software services provider lifted the lower end of its revenue forecast for the fourth quarter.
Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN) rose 4.51 percent in premarket. The maker of navigation devices will replace R.R. Donnelley (NASDAQ: RRD) in the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Tuesday, December 11.
Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) posted a jump in earnings and revenue for the third quarter and the maker of athletics and yoga apparel raised its full-year forecast. However, the company guided fourth-quarter below consensus, and its shares retreated 3.78 percent in premarket.
Men's Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE: MW) plunged 11.26 percent in premarket after the specialty retailer posted third-quarter results that missed Wall Street projections and cut its earnings forecast due to lower-than-expected retail clothing sales in November.
Finisar Corp. (NASDAQ: FNSR) gained 4.72 percent after the developer of fiber optic subsystems posted better-than-expected results for the second quarter.
Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) reported quarterly earnings that topped market expectations as volumes grew, while sales trailed consensus amid lower meat and live hog prices.
H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB), a tax service provider, reported a narrower quarterly loss due to lower costs and a 6 percent rise in revenue. Results exceeded Wall Street expectations.
European markets traded in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.92 percent to trade at 7,523. France's CAC40 rose 0.14 percent to trade at 3,595.55. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.35 percent to trade at 5,912.87.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index down 0.13 percent to finish at 2,029.24. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.81 percent to finish at 9,545.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.09 percent to end at 22,249.81. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,486.80, up 0.49 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures dropped 0.42 percent to $87.51 per barrel. Gold futures slipped 0.13 percent to $1,691.60 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dipped 0.03 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3064, while the British pound inched up 0.07 percent to 1.6109. The dollar fell 0.11 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.3800.