U.S. stock futures notched minor gains ahead of the market open, as investors looked ahead to the European Central Bank policy decision and to fresh U.S. labor market data for cues.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 16 points, or 0.1%, at 18,530.00 and futures for the S&P 500 picked up 2.2 points, or 0.1%, at 2,187.00. Futures of the Nasdaq-100 tacked on 3.5 points, or 0.1%, to 4,832.25.
Still in focus are Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares, which were down 0.4% premarket. They closed up a modest 0.6% on Wednesday after the launch event for the new iPhone 7 handset and other devices.
" Markets are consolidating ahead of another key central bank meeting," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.
Before the market open, the ECB will deliver its latest monetary policy decision, due at 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Conviction is growing that the central bank will prolong its asset-buying program beyond March 2017, but opinion is divided as to whether the move will come at Thursday's meeting.
"After signs that the eurozone economy is struggling again, there may be a nod towards further monetary easing. ... The committee could extend the program by another six months and possibly even increase the program purchases from the current EUR80bn per month," Perry said.
Investors will listen for clues when ECB President Mario Draghi holds his press conference after the meeting at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.