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Stock Futures Eye Third Day of Gains as Jobless Claims Drop

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a third day of gains on Wall Street as global equity markets gained ground as fears of a Chinese liquidity crisis eased and data showed a drop in U.S. jobless claims.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 11.25 points, or 10.19 points above fair value, to 1,606.75.

Data showing increased consumer spending also helped bolster investor outlook ahead of a number of public appearances Thursday by Federal Reserve officials.

The Department of Labor Thursday reported that initial jobless claims in the week ended June 22 decreased 9,000 to 346,000. Economists on average were expecting jobless claims of 345,000. The four-week moving average was 345,750, a decline of 2,750.

"The latest reading brings claims back below the 350,000 line-in-the-sand beneath which the economy should translate into payroll gains," Andrew Wilkinson, New York-based chief economist strategist at Miller Tabak said in a note.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were adding 92 points, or 86.86 points above fair value, to 14,916, while futures for the Nasdaq were ahead by 16.75 points, or 13.65 points above fair value, to 2,899.75.

Continuing claims in the week ended June 15 fell 1,000 to 2.965 million, according the Department of Labor. Economists were expecting continuing claims of 2.95 million.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that personal income increased by a greater-than-expected $69.4 billion, or 0.5% in May. A 0.2% gain in personal income was expected. Personal spending rose $29 billion, or 0.3%, in line with estimates.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday that China's industrial firms made total profit of 2.08 trillion yuan ($338.4 billion) in the first five months of this year, up 12.3% from the same time last year. For May alone, a year-over-year gain of 15.5% was registered, according to the NBS.

ConAgra Foods (CAG) was rising 1.95% to $34 after the food producer booked fiscal fourth quarter earnings of 60 cents a share, beating estimates by a penny, as the company continues to reap earnings contributions from its Ralcorp acquisition.

Winnebago Industries (WGO) was popping 2.91% to $21.57 after the recreational vehicle maker booked much better-than-expected quarterly revenue. The company nearly doubled its net income from the same period last year, bolstered by stronger dealer and retail demand.

BlackBerry (BBRY) was advancing 0.94% to $15.05. The company is set to report its May quarterly earnings on Friday morning before the open. The bulls think that if BlackBerry beats this quarter, it will be a sign the existing subscriber base is still embracing the new BlackBerry phones and the stock is still trading too cheaply relative to others, according to Eric Jackson, president and founder of Ironfire Capital, a Naples, Fla.-based hedge fund.

Clearwire (CLWR) shares were falling 2.16% to $4.98 after Dish Network (DISH) withdrew its offer to buy the wireless network operator for $4.40 a share. The withdrawal came after Sprint (S) last week raised its offer to buy the portion of Clearwire that it doesn't already own to $5 a share, and Clearwire's board recommended that shareholders accept the new offer. It had previously endorsed Dish's offer.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors is forecast to say that its pending home sales index rose 1% in May after gaining 0.3% in April.

New York Fed President William Dudley, an FOMC voting member, is scheduled to begin his briefing on the job market for college graduates and the economy in New York at 10 a.m.

Federal Reserve Gov. Jerome Powell, also a voting member, is set to give a speech on monetary policy to the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington at 10:30 a.m.

At 12:30 p.m., Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is scheduled to give a speech on the economic outlook to the Kiwanis Club in Marietta, Ga.

The FTSE 100 in London was rising 1.01% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.52%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng settled up 0.5%, while the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed ahead by 2.96%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 13/32, lowering the yield to 2.492%. The dollar was off 0.05% to $82.94 according to the U.S. dollar index.

August gold futures were gaining $2.60 to $1,232.40 an ounce. August crude oil futures were rising 49 cents to $95.99 a barrel.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>.

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