U.S. futures decline ahead of jobless data; Dow Jones down 0.22%

U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, ahead of the release of U.S. jobless claims data. although the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting still lent some support.

Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.22% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.22% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.28% decline.

Equities found support on Wednesday after the Fed's March meeting minutes showed that officials discussed whether to make a more explicit commitment to keeping short-term interest rates at record lows until inflation moves higher, but instead decided to wait.

The minutes also indicated growing concerns among officials over persistently low inflation.

Last month the U.S. central bank reduced the monthly pace of purchases by $10 billion, to $55 billion, and repeated it is likely to continue paring the program in 'further measured steps.'

Tech stocks were expected to be active, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Chief Executive Officer John Chen said he is giving himself two years to overhaul the smartphone maker and offset dropping handset demand.

Chen reportedly plans to boost sales of software that connects computers with all sorts of machines, from cars to heart monitors. Shares jumped 1.76% in after-hour trade.

The auto sector was also likely to be in the spotlight, following reports electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) plans to start selling its luxury sedans in China this month. Shares still slipped 0.20% in pre-market trade.

Separately, General Motors (NYSE:GM), up 0.18% in extended trading, said it shouldn’t be forced to tell car owners to park models with faulty ignition switches until they are fixed. The automaker argues that the cars are safe to drive if government-approved recall instructions are followed.

Elsewhere, Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) dove 5.67% in early trading after the retail chain’s first-quarter profit forecast fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Commerce Bancshares (CBSH.O), Family Dollar Stores (NYSE:FDO), Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR), Rite Aid (RAD), Shaw Communications (SJR) and Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST), scheduled to report earnings reports later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 dropped 0.70%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.51%, Germany's DAX slid 0.55%, while Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.16%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.51%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat.