NEW YORK - Stock index futures rose on Thursday as investors awaited weekly data that will provide a measure of the health of the jobs market.
Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to show requests for jobless benefits edged up to 460,000 last week from 457,000, according to Reuters data. After last week's better-than-expected jobs report for November, investors are looking for a confirmation that job losses are stabilizing.
The data is due at 8:30 a.m., as is a report on U.S. international trade for October.
Citigroup Inc plans to repay the Treasury its rescue funds with about $20 billion raised in a stock offering, cable television network CNBC reported.
Analysts said the repayment would be another sign that banks were returning to health. Citigroup's shares rose 2.3 percent to $3.95 in premarket trading.
After soaring 62 percent from March's 12-year low, stocks have drifted of late with investors wary of losing profits as the year draws to a close. The broad S&P 500 is up 21.3 percent for 2009.
You've had a tremendous movement this year, and you'll see a continued battle between people putting away whatever they earned this year in profits and investors still thinking there might be more room to run, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.10 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 38 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 8 points.
Stocks ended higher on Wednesday as the U.S. dollar fell and investors' appetite for risk returned, lifting shares of financial, technology and natural resource companies.
Markets have also been buffeted this week by worries about the credit worthiness of various economies after Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece and Standard & Poor's warned Spain that it risks a debt downgrade in two years.
We've gotten to a point in the market now where we're past the initial rise that came from the first round of spending, and now, you're having investors start to question where the direction goes from here, said Meckler.
Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co forecast 2010 earnings in a range that was in line with analysts' expectations, but gave no sign of how profit might pan out after its biggest drugs lose patent protection between 2011 and 2014.
Costco Wholesale Corp, the No. 1 U.S. warehouse club operator, reported a slight increase in first-quarter profit as revenue rose.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc expects gross margins to climb to above 45 percent in 2011 as it launches new products and modifies a manufacturing agreement, boosting its goal of becoming profitable again.
Hershey Co and the trust that controls it are close to deciding whether to bid for rival candy maker Cadbury Plc, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening, citing sources close to the matter.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)