Janet Yellen, the nominee to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman at the end of the year, will testify before the Senate banking committee as well on Thursday.
Dow Jones industrial futures are up 10 points to 15,789. S&P futures have gained 3.2 points to 1,781.90. Nasdaq futures are down 7.25 points to 3,394.75.
Wal-Mart shares slipped before the opening bell after issuing less-than-bold profit guidance.
Net income grew during the most recent quarter, but the world's largest retailer said that sales are being constrained as lower-income shoppers across the globe navigate a choppy economic recovery.
Shares of Kohl's plunged more than 9 percent after it fell well short of profit and revenue projections.
Nordstrom is also reporting quarterly earnings Thursday.
The number of Americans applying for U.S. unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the fifth straight weekly decline.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell 5,750 to 344,000. The average has dropped 11 percent in the past year.
That supports surprisingly strong jobs data for October, and employers have now added an average of 202,000 jobs every month since August. That's up sharply from an average of 146,000 during the previous quarter.
The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit widened in September as imports increased and exports slipped.
And U.S. workers increased their productivity from July through September, according to the Labor Department.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin said it will cut 4,000 jobs, about 3 percent of its global workforce, citing a decline in U.S government spending.