Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, as the dollar fell and investors awaited data that could offer insight into how firmly a recovery is taking hold.
With five closely watched indicators on tap, investors will have plenty of numbers to assess the strength of the recovery and whether the S&P's 22 percent rise this year still has legs.
The most important datapoint may be weekly jobless claims, coming a day early because of the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, to measure the strength of the labor market.
The tendency of the market has been to move higher with thoughts of recovery, but unemployment is the main sticking point, said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in New York. For the markets to move up significantly today, the employment number will have to be positive.
Meckler added that the markets historically perform well going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Absent poor economic news, it's likely to be an up day, he said.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.7 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 25 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 8.25 points.
The U.S. dollar index <.DXY> fell 0.7 percent, dropping to a 15-month low against a currency basket after U.S. Federal Reserve minutes showed that policymakers saw the dollar's recent decline as orderly.
The decline on Wednesday boosted commodities, lifting gold to record highs at $1,182.10 an ounce in Europe, while January crude futures by 0.4 percent to $76.31 per barrel.
Luxury retailer Tiffany & Co advanced 7 percent to $44.75 in premarket trading after the company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit and said sales growth in November so far has been similar to its expectations.
Farm equipment maker Deere & Co fell 2.7 percent to $50.90 before the bell after reporting a fourth-quarter loss and projecting a decline in its equipment sales in 2010.
According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, demand for U.S. home loans slipped last week even as mortgage rates hovered near record lows.
U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday on lackluster economic data, though the losses eased after the Fed raised its growth expectations.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)