NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures look to end 2014 on a high note, edging upwards to partially erase losses a day earlier.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.18%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 0.12% and Nasdaq futures added 0.14%.
"The economy entering the New Year is in better shape than previously thought and is likely to escape a serious downturn in 2015," Peter Cardillo, chief economist at Rockwell Capital, said in a note. "We reiterate our positive outlook for stocks in 2015, as expanding U.S. growth remains favorable for growing corporate earnings."
Weekly jobless claims data disappointed, up 17,000 to 298,000 for the week ended Dec. 27. Economists had expected 290,000 new filings for unemployment benefits for the week.
Chicago PMI will be released shortly after the bell. Pending home sales data is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST with economists expecting a 0.5% increase, falling from 1.1% a month earlier.
The Energy Information Administration will also release U.S. petroleum inventories numbers midmorning.
"Every little thing to do with oil is important right now, and this one printed at a jaw-dropping increase in supply of over 7 million barrels last week," economist Stephen Guilfoyle wrote in a blog post. "We do think that we'll see another increase this week, but that it will be much, much smaller."
Oil continued to plummet on Wednesday after showing signs of stabilization a day earlier. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 2% to $53.04, on track for its biggest annual decline in 6 years. The commodity has been in freefall as supply outpaced global demand and OPEC refused to limit future production.
In international markets, the Shanghai Composite popped more than 2%, cementing its position as the world's best-performing major market this year after jumping more than 50%.
Earlier, China's factory activity contracted, falling to a seven-month low of 49.6 in December, according to the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index. The region's economic strength has been called into doubt as it faces flagging industrial growth.
In company news, China-based Fosun International announced it will purchase Meadowbrook Insurance Group (MIG) for $433 million to strengthen its insurance unit and expand into the U.S. The offer represents a 21% premium over Meadowbrooks' Tuesday closing price. Meadowbank shares climbed more than 18% premarket.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.