LONDON, April 19 (Reuters) - * U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open for equities on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 rising 0.5 to 0.7 percent.
* The Labor department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended April 14 at 1230 GMT. Economists forecast a total of 370,000 new filings, compared with 380,000 in the prior week.
* On the earnings front, focus will be on the first quarter earnings of Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank. Wall Street has priced in a profit of 12 cents per share, down from 17 cents in the same period one year ago.
* Other major companies announcing results include Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Verizon and DuPont.
* The Conference Board releases its report on March leading
economic indicators at 1400 GMT. Economists forecast a 0.2 percent rise, compared with a 0.7 percent gain in February.
* National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases existing home sales for March at 1400 GMT. Economists forecast a 4.62 million annualized unit total, versus 4.59 million units in February.
* Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases April business activity survey at 1400 GMT. Economists forecast a reading of 12.0, versus 12.5 in March.
* China’s economy has weathered the worst after reporting its slowest quarterly growth since the tail-end of the financial crisis in the first three months of 2012, and is heading for a rebound in coming months, a Reuters poll showed.
* U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft unveiled an offshore exploration partnership on Wednesday that could invest upward of $500 billion in developing Russia’s vast energy reserves in the Arctic and Black Sea.
* EBay Inc said quarterly sales and profit grew more than expected and raised its 2012 forecasts, citing growth in the e-commerce company’s Marketplaces and PayPal businesses.
* Marriott International Inc reported a higher quarterly profit late on Wednesday as corporate business strengthened, and the hotelier raised its forecast for a key revenue metric, sending its shares up in extended trading.
* Europe’s top shares rose 0.6 percent on Thursday as Spain prepared to test investors appetite for risk at its bond auction.
* Spain will pay dearly for longer-term debt on Thursday when it auctions a 10-year bond for only the second time this year to markets spooked by fears it will miss deficit targets and fail to restart growth.
* The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 82.79 points, or 0.63 percent, to close at 13,032.75 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shed 5.64 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,385.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 11.37 points, or 0.37 percent, to 3,031.45.