- U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open on Thursday, as remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen lent support to U.S. equities, but investors remained cautious ahead of U.S. jobless claims data later in the day.

Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.09% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.01% uptick, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.02% dip.

U.S. equity markets strengthened after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that a high degree of monetary accommodation remains warranted given the slack in the economy.

Ms. Yellen also said the Fed expects economic growth to accelerate this year despite the slowdown in the first quarter but warned that the recent housing market slowdown "could prove more protracted than currently expected."

The auto sector was set to be in focus, after Ford Motor (NYSE:F) said it will repurchase $1.8 billion of its shares to reduce dilution from recent stock grants to executives. The news sent shares in the automaker up 1.03%.

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) was also expected to remain in the spotlight, as the casino operator was said to be looking for ways to reduce capacity in Atlantic City''s struggling market, including closing properties.

The group had announced earlier in the week that it is selling a minority interest in its largest unit, setting the stage for a wider restructuring.

Elsewhere, Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was slated to be active following news NBC is set to pay an average of 16% more for rights to broadcast the Olympic Games in the U.S. through 2032, far below the price hikes that sports such as soccer and American football have commanded.

Meanwhile, AT&T (NYSE:T) shares rose 0.25% in after-hour trade amid reports the mobile-phone carrier is in talks to buy satellite-television company DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV).

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA), (NASDAQ:PCLN) and News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 advanced 0.66%, France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.57%, Germany''s DAX gained 0.57%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 rose 0.49%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng gained 0.42%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 0.93%.

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

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