- U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve said interest rates would remain low for some time, while markets eyed the release of U.S. data later in the day.

Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.01% dip, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.02% downtick, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.07% gain.

At the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Fed cut its bond purchases by another $10 billion a month, to $35 billion, saying there was "sufficient underlying strength" in the U.S. economy to continue tapering.

Despite this, the Fed also lowered its forecast for growth this year to a range of 2.1% to 2.3% from 2.8 to 3.0% previously, due to "unexpected contractions" in the first quarter as a result of the unusually harsh winter. The central bank still acknowledged a broad improvement in the labor market.

The Fed said it expects the federal-funds rate, currently close to zero, to reach 1.2% by the end of next year and 2.5% by the end of 2016, a slightly faster rate of tightening than formerly expected. (NASDAQ:AMZN), up 0.85% in pre-market trade, was expected to be active after the online retailer unveiled its Fire Phone handset on Wednesday. Its first smartphone will cost $199 for the 32 GB version and $299 for the 64 GB.

General Electric (NYSE:GE), up 0.07% in extended trade, was also set to remain in the spotlight amid speculation the company could make an improved bid for Alstom (PARIS:ALSO)''s energy assets.

Among tech stocks, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) edged up 0.15% pre-market and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) slid 0.41% after the New York attorney general’s office announced that the two companies plan to incorporate a "kill switch" into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems in order to deter theft.

Elsewhere, American Apparel (NYSE:APP) was expected to move after the clothing maker replaced its founder and chief executive officer, Dov Charney, after an investigation into misconduct.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and TIBCO Software (NASDAQ:TIBX), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 1.25%, France’s CAC 40 jumped 1%, Germany''s DAX gained 0.85%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 advanced 0.84%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng dipped 0.06%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.62%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims as well as a report on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.

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