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Stock futures climb as oil rebounds; data on tap

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[December 18, 2014]  By Chuck Mikolajczak
 NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures surged on Thursday, putting the S&P 500 on track to extend gains from the prior session, as oil prices showed hints of stabilizing and ahead of data on the labor market.

The benchmark S&P 500 index notched its best day since October 2013 after the Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy and said it would take a patient approach toward raising interest rates, while the energy sector <.SPNY> jumped more than 4 percent.

Oil prices rose, boosting a rebound off five-year lows, with Brent crude <LCOc1> climbing as high as $63.70 and WTI crude <CLc1> up more than 2 percent. Exxon Mobil <XOM.N> rose 2 percent to $90.84 and the Select Sector Energy ETF <XLE.P> gained 1.6 percent to $78.34 in premarket trading. [O/R]

Investors will eye weekly initial jobless claims data due out at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) for signs of strengthen in the labor market. Expectations are for claims to have increased by 1,000 from the prior week to 295,000.

Data expected later in the session includes the preliminary services sector Purchasing Managers Index from Markit at 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT). At 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's manufacturing survey and the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index are due.

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Oracle Corp <ORCL.N> gained 5.3 percent to $43.34 before the opening bell after reporting quarterly results that topped Wall Street expectations.

Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc <ATDb.TO> said it will buy U.S. convenience store chain The Pantry Inc <PTRY.O> for $1.7 billion, including debt. Pantry shares were halted in premarket trading.

European stocks and Asian stocks rallied, tracking Wall Street's climb after the Fed statement.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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