Wall Street up after claims data
US stock index futures rose ahead of labor market data, with Macy's raising the bar for retailers after a stellar holiday season.
Macy's shares rose 6.6 percent in premarket trading a day after the department store operator reported strong holiday season sales and gave a preliminary forecast for 2014 that suggests it will continue to outpace its rivals.
S&P 500 futures rose 4 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.
Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 41 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.5 points
European shares steadied near a 5-1/2-year high with investors staying on the sidelines before policy meetings that could provide hints about future actions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.
Both central banks are likely to keep interest rates on hold later in the day, but the ECB is expected to remind markets its policy could ease further if inflation stays too low or money market conditions tighten.
Japan's Nikkei stock average shed 1.5 percent after the previous session's bounce, as investors stayed risk averse ahead of a key US jobs report them following day.
The Nikkei ended 241.12 points lower at 15,880.33 after climbing 1.9 percent on Wednesday to snap losses on the first two trading days of 2014. Tokyo stock markets began this year's trading on Monday.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was flat at 1,321.49 points, trading just below its 5-1/2 year high scaled in the previous session. But Portugal's PSI 20 climbed 0.7 percent on rising confidence about a recovery in peripheral euro zone economies.