Thursday is a busy day for earnings reports as well. General Motors(GM)reported a $1.3 billion charge relating to a massive recall involving faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. But excluding that charge and other one-time items, GM's earnings easily topped forecasts. Shares rose 2% in premarket trading.
UPS(UPS) blamed the snowy weather for weak first quarter results while Caterpillar(CAT) shares surged nearly 4% in premarket action after reporting earnings that topped forecasts.
Microsoft(MSFT), Starbucks(SBUX), Amazon(AMZN) and Baidu(BIDU) are slated to report after the market closes.
Shares of AstraZenec (AZN)gained after the firm reported better-than-expected earnings. AstraZeneca was in the spotlight earlier this week after it was reported that Pfize h(PFE)ad considered buying the company for £60 billion ($100 billion). Some think an offer may yet come.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Alstom(ALSMY) shares surged by roughly 12% Thursday following a Bloomberg report that General Electric(GE) may make a multi-billion dollar bid for the company. The French maker of turbines and trains said it was "not informed" of a takeover offer.
On the economic front, investors are expecting the latest set of initial jobless claims from the U.S. Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Census Bureau will release durable goods orders at the same time.