5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures are suggesting a flat to higher Wall Street open Thursday ahead of weekly jobless claims and after stocks finished mixed on Wednesday amid a disappointing private-sector employment report.

European shares were moving higher ahead of an interest rate decision from the European Central Bank on Thursday. Asian stocks ended lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.3%. Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT; economists forecast a total of 380,000 new filings, according to Reuters, compared with 388,000 in the prior week.

Automaker General Motors ( GM) is expected Thursday to report first-quarter earnings of 85 cents a share on sales of $37.88 billion, according to analysts.

Dow component Kraft Foods ( KFT) is scheduled to report its first-quarter results after Thursday's closing bell. Analysts are calling for earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $13.05 billion.

Kensey Nash ( KNSY), a U.S. medical-devices company, agreed to be acquired by Dutch high-performance materials maker Royal DSM for $38.50 a share.

The cash bid, which has been approved by the Kensey Nash board, is a 33% premium to Kensey Nash's closing price of $29.01 on Wednesday.

Carlyle Group's planned initial public offering was priced at $22 per unit, below its expected price range of $23 to $25.

The private-equity firm can potentially raise more than $700 million in the IPO.

The lower price came after some mutual-fund investors pushed for a better deal, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

"The Scream," Edvard Munch's masterpiece and one of the world's most recognizable works of art, sold for $120 million at Sotheby's on Wednesday, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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