U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday, as government data indicated the recession may be abating, while investors digested May sales from retailers.
The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to 621,000 last week, showing an easing of the pace in the labor market's deterioration, while non-farm productivity rose by 1.6 percent, much stronger than initially estimated in the first quarter.
It's good news with respect to the fact that we're looking like we turned the corner in terms of the claims. They're receding from the highs we saw in April, said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
That's a sign that we're close to the end of the recession, if it holds, and we're also seeing that kind of data in other indicators.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.8 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 added 30 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 2 points.
As retailers reported May sales, investors sought evidence that consumers were spending again. Thirteen of 22 retailers have reported worse-than-expected same-store sales, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Costco Wholesale Corp
Goldman Sachs raised its end-of-2009 oil price forecast to $85 a barrel from $65 and introduced a new end-of-2010 forecast of $95, it said in a research note. Oil futures were up 3 percent. Exxon Mobil Corp
U.S. stocks tumbled Wednesday, halting a four-day winning streak, as falling oil prices hit energy shares, while less-than-upbeat economic reports rekindled worries about recovery prospects.
Since reaching a bottom in early March, the Dow has gained 34.1 percent and the S&P has risen 39.7 percent.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)