Stock futures gain ahead of jobless claims data

By @ibtimes on

Stock index futures rose on Thursday as investors shifted focus to jobs data later in the morning, temporarily brushing off euro zone debt concerns.

* Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned and warned of grave consequences for the country after parliament rejected his government's latest austerity measures aimed at avoiding a bailout. The resignation increased expectations Lisbon will seek international aid. It also threw into disarray a European Union summit later this week expected to address the region's debt crisis.

* Oracle Corp is due to report results later in the day and offer any evidence of the upward curve of technology spending.

* Other companies due to announce results include Best Buy Co Inc , ConAgra Foods Inc and Darden Restaurants Inc .

* The Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended March 19 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 383,000 new filings, compared with 385,000 in the prior week.

* At the same time, the Commerce Department will release February durable goods orders data. Economists expect a rise of 1.1 percent versus a 3.2 percent increase in January.

* S&P 500 futures were up 6.2 points, and 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 48 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 20 points.

* Rating agency Moody's downgraded its ratings for 30 Spanish banks by one or more notches, citing a weak outlook with no major improvement in sight. The agency cut Spain sovereign debt rating on March 10.

* Western warplanes hit Libya for a fifth night, but have failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi's tanks from shelling rebel-held towns.

* Stores in Tokyo were running out of bottled water after radiation from a damaged nuclear complex briefly made tap water unsafe for babies, while more nations curbed imports of Japanese food.

* In Europe, shares edged higher in early trade, lifted by retailers after upbeat results in the sector, though low volumes showed investors were staying on the sidelines as caution over the euro zone debt crisis lingered.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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