* Futures up: Dow 51 pts, S&P 7.75 pts, Nasdaq 19.5 pts
Oct 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday ahead of a host of key earnings reports and economic data.
* Dow components 3M, Caterpillar and McDonald’s report results before the bell, while technology majors Microsoft, Alphabet, AT&T and Amazon are due to report after the close.
* Dow Chemicals rose 3.2 percent to $49.00 premarket after its results.
* Global stocks were up ahead of a policy-setting meeting by the European Central Bank (ECB). Chinese stocks recovered from Wednesday’s selloff.
* The ECB is unlikely to take new policy steps as it awaits fresh indications about the outlook for euro zone inflation.
* U.S. data scheduled for Thursday includes unemployment benefits claims. The data, due at 08:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), is expected to show last week’s claims increased to 265,000.
* Existing home sales are expected to have grown 1.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.38 million units in September. The data is due at 10:00 a.m.
* Investors will parse the earnings reports and the data for clues that could help decide the timing of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
* The Fed, which kept rates unchanged at near-zero levels at a September meeting, has said it will wait for signs of sustained global economic resilience before pulling the trigger.
* U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday after a sharp slide in Valeant Pharmaceuticals weighed on healthcare stocks. Valeant’s shares were down 1.6 percent to $116.75 premarket.
* Community Health Systems sank 18.3 percent to $33.11 premarket after it posted disappointing outlook late on Wednesday. Other hospital operators Lifepoint, HCA Holdings and Tenet Healthcare also fell 5 to 8.5 percent.
* American Express fell 4.5 percent to $73.10 after its quarterly profit missed estimates.
* eBay rose 8.9 percent to $26.36 and Texas Instruments were up 7.9 percent at $56.00 after they reported better-than-expected third-quarter results.
Futures snapshot at 6:57 a.m. ET:
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.39 percent, with 96,275 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 19.5 points, or 0.44 percent, on volume of 13,924 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were up 51 points, or 0.3 percent, with 12,203 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)