Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday, with Wall Street set to snap a four-day losing streak as retailers posted better-than-expected August sales that helped offset more disappointing news from the labor market.
U.S. retailers' monthly sales showed some signs that the economic downturn was easing, but a late U.S. Labor Day holiday and muted consumer enthusiasm weighed on results in the key back-to-school season.
Optimism that consumers may be ready to spend more was offset by higher-than-expected weekly jobless claims, which came ahead of Friday's key monthly job number and a day after data showing continued pressure on private-sector jobs.
Government data showed initial jobless claims fell to 570,000 from a revised 574,000 the week before, but that was above economists' forecast for 560,000.
I wish the data were better, said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York. These numbers aren't that bad, but they put a spotlight on tomorrow's number, which is critical ... Everyone is likely going to be holding their breath for the next 25 hours.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.5 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 46 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9.00 points.
Costco Wholesale Corp
Commodity prices rose. U.S. crude oil futures climbed 0.5 percent toward $69 a barrel and metal prices climbed across the board.
Shares in gold miners rallied as the precious metal climbed to a fresh three-month high in Europe, extending the last session's gains. Shares of Newmont Mining Corp
The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing data for August is set for release at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), with a reading of 48.0 expected from a survey of economists by Reuters.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)