Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 rising 0.1 to 0.3%.

The Labor Department releases at 1230 GMT first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended August 11. Economists forecast a total of 365,000 new filings, compared with 361,000 in the prior week.

With the launch of its new tablet, unveiled in the United States, Samsung Electronics is looking to build on the popularity of its Note 'phablet', and expects key features such as a stylus-type pen and split-screen function to stand the new device apart from rival Apple Inc's iPad.

The Commerce Department releases housing starts and permits for July at 1230 GMT. Economists forecast a 757,000 annualized rate in July, versus 760,000 in June.

Wal-Mart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, reports second-quarter results. Wal-Mart shares have hit new highs, with investors ignoring concerns about a probe into possible tax evasion, bribery and money laundering in Mexico.

At 1000 GMT, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases August business activity survey. Economists forecast a reading of -5.0, versus -12.9 in July.

Norway's Telenor and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group moved a step closer to settling their long dispute over controlling mobile operator Vimpelcom (VIP.N) when both agreed to lift their stakes.

General Motors' (GM) German unit Opel is in talks with worker representatives to shorten working hours at its main plant in Ruesselsheim near Frankfurt, German daily Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz reported on Thursday, citing a company spokesman.

Mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj (NOK) said on Wednesday it will hold a joint media event with Microsoft Corp (MSFT) in New York on September 5, boosting hopes that it will unveil its long-awaited Windows smartphone upgrade before rival Apple Inc (AAPL) rolls out its next iPhone.

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO) offered little hope that dire economic conditions in Europe would come to an end any time soon but pleased investors with a 75 percent dividend hike as the company posted quarterly results that beat estimates.

Applied Materials (AMAT) forecast current-quarter revenue below expectations and its chief executive hinted the top chip-gear maker could shed poorly performing non-core businesses.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU of top European shares fell 0.2%on Thursday.

U.S. stocks spent another session in a tight range on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 0.1%, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 0.1%and the Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 0.5%.