The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stock index futures rose on Thursday, following a record close on the S&P 500 index, lifted by strong data overseas and better than forecast results from Facebook.

* China's factory activity expanded at its fastest in 18 months in July and the euro zone's private sector also perked up, suggesting the global economy began the second half of 2014 on a solid footing.

* A reading on the US manufacturing sector is due at 9:45 am EDT (15:45 SA time), following data on applications for unemployment insurance due at 8:30 am (14:30 SA time).

New home sales numbers are expected at 10:00 am (16:00 SA time).

* Facebook shares jumped 8.7 percent in premarket trading following a better-than-forecast 61 percent increase in revenue during the second quarter.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 4 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a higher open.

Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 26 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 13 points.

* Ford shares edged 0.6 percent higher after profit beat expectations while GM dropped 2.1 percent premarket on a lower second-quarter profit on Thursday due to numerous recalls and the expected cost of at least $400 million for its victims' compensation fund.

* Drugmakers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly both beat Wall Street expectations, helped by cost controls. - Reuters