- U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Thursday, as markets awaited the release of U.S. economic reports later in the day, while investors also continued to monitor developments in Ukraine.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.12% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.10% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.07% gain.

European Union leaders were preparing to meet at a summit on Thursday to discuss developments in Ukraine.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have heightened in recent weeks and on Sunday Russia carried out an invasion of Ukrainian peninsula Crimea.

The tech sector was likely to be in focus, after Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said his company is experimenting with automation in ways that could "replace a lot of the repetitive behavior in our lives."

Speaking at a conference in Santa Monica, California, Schmidt added that "robots will become omnipresent in our lives in a good way." Google shares were down 0.10% in after-hour trade.

IBM was also slated to move as more than 1,000 workers went on strike at one of the company''s factories in southern China, in objection to the terms of their transfer to Lenovo as part of its $2.3 billion acquisition of the U.S. technology firm''s server business.

Yahoo shares edged up 0.05% pre-market following reports Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer decided to stop granting consumers access to its various online services through Google or Facebook. Users will now be required to register for a Yahoo ID to use the company''s portal services.

Facebook was expected to be in the spotlight after the social media giant and its photo sharing subsidiary, Instagram, said they will delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks. Shares climbed 0.41% in early trading.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Kroger and Staples, scheduled to report quarterly earnings later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.43%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.49%, Germany''s DAX added 0.21%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 inched 0.01% higher.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.55%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.59%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on factory orders.

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