(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street, weighed by a positive weekly jobless claims data even as political leaders prepared to restart talks over the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 15 points to 13,058. The Nasdaq futures added 6 points to 2,634.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 2.50 points to 1,416.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended on a lower note as continued worries over the "fiscal cliff" and a soft report on holiday sales weighed on the sentiment. President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to begin in January.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits were fewer than expected last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 12,000 to 350,000 for the week ended Dec. 22 from a revised 362,000, while economists projected 360,000 applications.
At 10 am ET, a report may show that new-home sales - which measures the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month - rose to 378,000 from 368,000.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index is expected to decline to 70 in December from 73.7.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: MSFT, F, MRVL, BCDS
In corporate news, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) inched higher in premarket after the software giant said it would open six retail stores at various locations next year.
Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) added 0.16 percent in premarket. The auto giant said it is investing more than $773 million across six manufacturing facilities in southeast Michigan to boost growth.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) fell 3.92 percent in premarket after a federal jury ordered the company to pay $1.17 billion in damages in a patent infringement suit. Marvell said it will seek to overturn the verdict.
BCD Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. (NASDAQ: BCDS) nearly doubled its value in premarket after Diodes Inc. (NASDAQ: DIOD) agreed to acquire the company for about $151 million in cash.
European markets traded higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.36 percent to trade at 7,664.12. France's CAC40 added 0.75 percent to trade at 3,680.18. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.43 percent to trade at 5,979.19.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index down 0.60 percent to finish at 2,205.90. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.91 percent to close at 10,322.98. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 0.35 percent to end at 22,619.78. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,323.80, up 0.48 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures gained 0.29 percent to $91.23 per barrel. Gold futures fell 0.21 percent to $1,656.80 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.43 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3281, and the British pound added 0.18 percent to 1.6167. The dollar advanced 0.35 percent against the Japanese yen to 85.9300.