By Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were muted on Thursday ahead of jobless claims data and fresh inflation figures that are expected to give more cues on the Federal Reserve’s tightening policy, while Delta Air Lines led gains among carriers on strong earnings.

Both jobless claims and producer prices data at 08:30 a.m. ET come after Wall Street eked out slim gains on Wednesday when consumer prices largely met market expectations despite hitting a 40-year high.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand is expected to rise 0.4% in December, compared with a 0.8% increase in November. In the 12 months through December, the PPI likely accelerated 9.8% after shooting up 9.6% in November.

Delta Air Lines gained 2.2% in premarket trading after beating estimates for fourth-quarter earnings and said it has recovered nearly 80% of its 2019 pre-pandemic level revenue.

Shares of peers American Airlines and United Airlines advanced 1.6% each.

More U.S. companies will report results on the final quarter of 2021 in the coming weeks, with year-over-year earnings growth from S&P 500 companies expected to be at 22.4%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

JPMorgan Chase is due to report on Friday along with Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Results from big technology and other mega-cap companies start next week, with Netflix due to report on Jan. 20.

Banks have been among the best performers since the start of the new year, with retail investors also raising their exposure to bank stocks ahead of the earnings announcements, according to Vanda Research’s weekly report on retail flows.

Major U.S. tech firms edged lower ahead of a White House meeting with their top executives, including representatives from Alphabet-owned Google, Apple Inc and Inc, to discuss software security.

Also on the radar, Fed Governor Lael Brainard will appear at a Congressional hearing later in the day for her nomination as deputy chair.

Wells Fargo joined Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank in forecasting an aggressive tightening of U.S. monetary policy in the coming months and estimating the Fed to raise interest rates four times this year.

At 7:03 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 38 points, or 0.11%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.75 points, or 0.02%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3.5 points, or 0.02%.

Recently listed satellite launch service provider Virgin Orbit gained 2.1% after tweeting that it is on track for its first commercial satellite launch on Thursday between 1300 and 1530 Pacific Time.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)