Stock index futures advanced on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may resume its march higher ahead of data on the labor market and a report on regional manufacturing.
The S&P 500 snapped a five-day winning streak on Wednesday, as investors found little reason to extend a rally that took the benchmark index to four-year highs.
Investors will look for clues on the health of the labor market when weekly claims for jobless benefits for the week ended March 10 are released at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists in a Thomson Reuters survey forecast a total of 356,000 new filings compared with 362,000 in the prior week.
The weekly jobless numbers have found a new level that is important. We've gone from the line in the sand being sort of 400,000 to 350,000 - and over the course of the last five weeks we've seen a decrease in the four-week moving average that gets us closer to 350,000 than to 400,000, which is where we were at the start of the year, said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
So that is a slow and steady improvement to a much more constructive number. If that continues, the market is going to continue to celebrate the improving economy.
Also due at 8:30 a.m. is the February producer price index, which is expected to show a 0.5 percent month-over-month rise in PPI compared with a 0.1 percent rise in January. Excluding volatile food and energy items, producer prices are expected to rise 0.2 percent versus with a 0.4 percent increase in January.
Manufacturing activity in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will also be in focus with the release of the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for March from the New York Federal Reserve at 8:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. (1400 GMT), the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases its March business activity survey.
S&P 500 futures added 3.2 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 rose 17 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9 points.
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Israel's Calcalist financial newspaper reported on Thursday that NDS, which develops software for multi-channel television networks, is in advanced talks to be acquired by Cisco Systems Inc
European shares paused near eight-month highs, with investors awaiting more reassurance about the strength of the global economy and signs the improvement was filtering through into corporate earnings before pushing the rally further. <.EU>
Asian shares eased on renewed concerns about Chinese growth, but a brighter global economic outlook underpinned the dollar and kept investor risk appetite intact, reducing the appeal of safe-haven government debts.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)