U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher opening on Thursday on hopes that an upcoming report on the labor market will show improvement in the economy.
Retailers will be in the spotlight as they report May same-store sales, which will show whether consumers are opening their wallets. Costco Wholesale Corp posted weaker-than-expected April sales.
The ADP national employment report, due at 8:15 a.m. EDT, is expected to show a gain of 60,000 private-sector jobs in May, up from 32,000 added in April.
The ADP could give us a continued sense that the economy is coming back, and that there might be enough strength in the U.S. recovery to overcome any concerns about a weaker Europe, said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
On Friday, the critical May non-farm payroll report will be released, with economists looking for 513,000 non-farm jobs being added to the economy. U.S. President Barack Obama said he believed the report will show strong growth.
Meckler said a strong ADP number lowers the chance of a number far below consensus in the Friday report and would increase optimism about the payroll report.
S&P 500 futures gained 4.1 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 19 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 4.25 points.
Weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, with economists expecting a drop of 10,000 to 450,000 in the latest week. April durable goods, factory orders and the ISM non-manufacturing index are all due at 10:00 a.m. EDT.
Robot submarines made halting progress in BP Plc's battle to siphon off oil belching from its ruptured wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, but tar balls and other debris from the spill pose new threats to the region's shoreline. U.S.-listed shares of BP gained 4 percent to $39.18 before the bell.
Texas Instruments Inc and five other companies will jointly boost investments in devices that use the Linux open-source software.
General Electric Co and Japanese trading house Itochu Corp <8001.T> will invest in large wind and other renewable energy projects. Shares of GE, a Dow component, were up 0.5 percent at $16.43.
On the earnings front, SAIC Inc is the only S&P 500 company scheduled to report.
Overseas markets were higher on Thursday, with both European and Japanese stocks hitting two-week highs on optimism over the U.S. labor market.
U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, led by energy shares as investors grabbed beaten-down shares.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)