* Futures up: Dow 27 pts, S&P 4 pts, Nasdaq 12 pts
By Tanya Agrawal
July 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed higher on Thursday after two days of losses as investors awaited a raft of earnings results and weekly jobless numbers.
* The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits is expected to have slightly declined by 1,000 to 280,000 as the U.S. labor market continues to firm. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).
* On Wednesday, Wall Street declined as the technology sector fell on disappointing results from giants including Apple and Microsoft.
* Corporate earnings will continue to drive the market with a host of big companies scheduled to report on Thursday.
* McDonald's, Caterpillar and 3M are scheduled to report before the bell while Visa, Amazon and AT&T are expected after the close.
* While markets remain near record highs, June-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to dip 1.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data, less than the 3-percent decline expected at the start of July.
* Of the companies that have reported so far, 70 percent beat earnings expectations, above the 63-percent average beat rate since 1994.
* However, only 55 percent have topped revenue forecasts, below the 61-percent average beat rate since 2002.
* SanDisk shares jumped 13 percent to $61.24 in premarket trading, a day after the data storage products maker reported a quarterly profit that was double of what analysts had expected.
* Dow component American Express fell 2.3 percent to $77.15 despite posting a profit that beat expectations as a strong dollar continues to hurt companies with large overseas operations.
* The dollar index was down 0.5 percent at $97.04 but had touched a four-month high earlier this week.
* Cigna rose 4.6 percent to $158 after reports said U.S. health insurer Anthem was close to finalizing negotiations to acquire the company in a deal valued at roughly $48 billion. Anthem was up 3.8 percent at $161.
* Eli Lilly rose 4.2 percent to $90 after the drugmaker's revenue rose due to demand for its new cancer and diabetes treatments.
Futures snapshot at 7:01 a.m. ET:
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.75 points, or 0.18 percent, with 74,342 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 12.25 points, or 0.27 percent, on volume of 11,678 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were up 27 points, or 0.15 percent, with 9,310 contracts changing hands. (Editing by Don Sebastian)