- U.S. stock market futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday, as market players looked ahead to key corporate earnings reports as well as highly-anticipated data on fourth quarter economic growth and weekly jobless claims.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.4%, S&P 500 futures signaled an increase of 0.5%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.8%.

U.S. markets ended Wednesday’s session down sharply as ongoing turbulence in emerging markets saw investors flee riskier assets and move in to safe-havens, like the Japanese yen and U.S. Treasuries.

Emerging markets economies, such as Turkey and South Africa, have been hard hit in recent sessions by worries over the impact of cuts in Federal Reserve stimulus and concerns over a possible slowdown in China.

The Fed said Wednesday that it would reduce its monthly bond buying program by USD10 billion to a total of USD65 billion a month, in a widely anticipated decision.

The U.S. central bank said growth signals are encouraging, and the unemployment market shows improvement "on balance".

Meanwhile, data released earlier confirmed a contraction in China’s manufacturing sector. China’s final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index released earlier fell to a six-month low of 49.5 in January, down from a preliminary reading of 49.6 and compared to 50.5 in December.

Strong gains in Facebook boosted the Nasdaq higher. Shares of the social media network surged 14.6% after the company said its fourth quarter profit rose to USD523 million from USD64 million a year earlier.

Revenue increased to USD2.59 billion from USD1.59 billion, above forecasts for sales of USD2.42 billion. Half of the company’s advertising revenue came from mobile devices, brightening the outlook for full-year earnings.

Shares of Qualcomm rose 3.2% ahead of the open after the company posted better-than-expected fiscal first quarter earnings after Wednesday’s closing bell.

Google shares picked up 2.3% after it agreed to sell its Motorola handset unit to Lenovo Group for approximately USD3 billion. After the close, Google is expected to report fourth quarter earnings of USD12.23 a share.

Other stocks in focus include 3M, Exxon Mobil, UPS, Visa and Amazon, which are all expected to release quarterly earnings later in the day.

The U.S. is to publish preliminary data on fourth quarter economic growth ahead of the opening bell. The nation is also to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on pending home sales.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were modestly lower. The EURO STOXX 50 dipped 0.15%, France’s CAC 40 shed 0.1%, Germany''s DAX slipped 0.2%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 inched down 0.25%.

Asian stock markets fell sharply on Thursday, with Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index falling 0.48%, China’s Shanghai Composite index declining 0.82%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 2.45%.

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