Wall Street was poised for a higher open on Thursday as U.S. weekly jobless claims fell last week and upbeat data from China and Europe fueled optimism the global economy is on track for growth.
The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance slipped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000, the government said, and a measure of underlying labor market trends hit a 1-1/2 year low.
Ahead of Friday's payrolls, investors put more weight on jobless claims data since markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.
There was some concern after yesterday's weak ADP report. If we had had a one-two punch of weaker-than-expected jobs numbers that would have been bad for tomorrow's number, especially with all the optimism for job growth, said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.
Wednesday's ADP report showed a surprising drop in private-sector employment, stoking concerns about the labor market and sending stocks down for the first time this week.
S&P 500 futures rose 7.4 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 jumped 72 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8 points.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on NBC television's Today program Thursday the U.S. unemployment rate, currently 9.7 percent, would remain unacceptably high for some time.
Other economic data due later includes the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing survey for March at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists forecast a reading of 57, up from 56.5 in the previous month.
Construction spending data for February is also due at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists expect a drop of 1 percent versus a decline of 0.6 percent in the previous month.
China's vast manufacturing sector shifted gears in March as orders climbed, two business surveys showed, pointing to brisk first-quarter GDP growth.
Manufacturing activity in the euro zone grew at its fastest pace in over three years last month, and faster than previously recorded.
Japan's business morale improved in March for the fourth consecutive quarter and to the highest in more than a year, a Bank of Japan survey showed.
In company news, BlackBerry smartphone maker Research in Motion Ltd
Micron Technology Inc
Monthly car sales from Ford Motor Co
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)