U.S. stock futures inched higher on Thursday, but with investors keeping a cautious eye on oil prices as they fell closer to $40 a barrel after a lackluster forecast for energy demand.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21 points, or 0.1%, to 18,473, while those for the S&P 500 index gained 1.30 points, or 0.1%, to 2,174. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index added 5 points, or 0.1%, to 4,786.50.
The small gains come after U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday, dragged down by a slump in oil prices. The S&P 500 index Nasdaq Composite retreated from record levels, both down 0.4%, while the Dow average slipped 0.2%.
Oil blues: "U.S. markets have been more responsive to the movements in oil over the last couple of weeks, something I expect to continue in the coming weeks if it falls back below $40," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in emailed comments.
"It's heading lower again this morning, which could weigh on indices after the open, but so far they appear to be holding up," he added.
Crude oil prices slid 1.3% to $41.16 a barrel on Thursday after the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for global oil demand next year, citing a dimmer economic outlook. The agency also warned in its monthly report that a "massive" stock is keeping a lid on oil prices.