) -- U.S. stock futures were signaling a higher start for Wall Street on Thursday, getting a boost from Asian markets which rose on expectations that China's central bank will ease monetary policy when it meets next week.

European stocks were posting slight gains ahead of an announcement Thursday from Spain on economic reforms and amid continued protests in Madrid and Athens over new austerity measures.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose about 0.5% to close at 8,949.87 on Thursday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed more than 1.1%.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, durable goods orders for August at 8:30 a.m., the third estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m., and pending home sales for August at 10 a.m.

U.S. stocks

on Wednesday were dragged lower by more uncertainty in the eurozone as both Greece and Spain dealt with anti-austerity protests.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell 44 points, or 0.33%, to close at 13,414. The blue-chip index has declined for four straight sessions and is up 9.79% in 2012.

Research In Motion


, the BlackBerry maker, is expected by analysts Thursday to report a fiscal second-quarter loss of 47 cents a share on revenue of $2.49 billion.


will be live-blogging RIM's results beginning at 3:45 p.m. EDT.


(NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. (NKE) Report

is expected by analysts to report a fiscal first-quarter profit of $1.12 a share on revenue of $6.42 billion. The sneaker maker earned $1.36 a share in the year-earlier quarter.

Other companies expected to post earnings on Thursday include


(ACN) - Get Accenture Plc Class A Report





Central European Distribution



TheStreet Recommends

Discover Financial Services

(DFS) - Get Discover Financial Services Report


Global Payments

(GPN) - Get Global Payments Inc. (GPN) Report



(GBX) - Get Greenbrier Companies, Inc. Report



(IDT) - Get IDT Corporation Class B Report



(MCK) - Get McKesson Corporation (MCK) Report


Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) Report





The NFL and the union representing the league's officials announced at midnight Thursday that a tentative eight-year agreement had been reached to end a lockout that began in June.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here:

Joseph Woelfel

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


Copyright 2012 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.