- U.S. stock futures pointed to a moderately higher open on Thursday, as positive Chinese manufacturing data supported sentiment and as investors eyed the release of U.S. economic reports later in the day.

Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.12% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.08% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.10% rise.

Market sentiment found some support after data earlier showed that the preliminary reading of China’s HSBC manufacturing index rose to a five month high of 49.7 this month, up from a final reading 49.4 in April, but still remained below the 50 level separating contraction from expansion.

On Wednesday, the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s April meeting indicated that the bank continues to see a slow improvement in the economy, but reiterated that rates are likely to remain on hold at record lows for some time after its asset purchase program ends.

The tech sector was slated to be in focus, after a number of companies said the bill U.S. lawmakers plan to vote on later in the day to limit National Security Agency spying doesn’t go far enough. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), among the companies in question, gained 0.25%, 0.48% and 0.14% respectively in pre-market trade.

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), down 0.57% in late trading, was also expected to be active after French mass media and telecommunication company Vivendi (PARIS:VIV) said it plans to sell about half of its remaining stake in the video-game maker in an offering valued at $866 million. The sale is expected to be completed by May 28.

Elsewhere, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) saw shares jump 0.91% pre-market after Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld said the aluminum producer is experiencing the biggest transformation in the metals industry "in 125 years."

In the financial sector, Bank Of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) reportedly agreed to sell its headquarters tower in lower Manhattan to a joint venture led by Macklowe Properties for $585 million.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR), Gap (NYSE:GPS), GameStop (NYSE:GME) and TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO), scheduled to report quarterly earnings later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 slipped 0.18%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.24%, Germany''s DAX added 0.09%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 edged up 0.07%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng climbed 0.51%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 2.11%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release its weekly report on initial jobless claims and private sector data on existing home sales.

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