Futures rise ahead of weekly jobs data

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[August 11, 2016]  By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday as oil prices steadied and investors awaited the weekly jobless claims data for hints of a strengthening labor market.

 

Brent crude futures were up 0.18 percent at $44.12 after the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a gradual draw in stocks through the third quarter. [O/R]

Wall Street closed lower on Wednesday, albeit in low volume trading, as a 2 percent drop in oil prices pulled its major indexes away from record levels.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits is expected to have slipped by 4,000 to 265,000 last week, continuing a trend of being below the 300,000 mark for the 75th consecutive week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

Shares of Alibaba <BABA.N> jumped nearly 5 percent premarket after the Chinese e-commerce giant reported a 59 percent rise in quarterly revenue. Yahoo <YHOO.O>, which owns a stake in Alibaba, rose 2.4 percent.

Kohl's, which kicks off the two-day department stores earnings period, rose 3.8 percent to $39.50 after its second-quarter revenue beat estimates. Shares of Macy's <M.N>, which is to report at 8:00 a.m. ET, rose 1.5 percent, while Nordstrom <JWN.N>, whose earnings are due after markets close, was slightly higher.

Better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and a set of strong economic data have pushed the S&P 500 to a series of record intraday highs since July.

No Federal Reserve official is expected to speak this week, but investors are awaiting Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the Jackson Hole conference on Aug. 26.

Valeant <VRX.N> fell nearly 9 percent in heavy trading after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. federal prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation on the drugmaker.

Shake Shack <SHAK.N> dropped 7 percent to $37.99 after the company's quarterly comparable-sales growth slowed more than expected.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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