NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a stronger open on strong June private sector job growth and a bigger-than-expected decline in initial weekly jobless claims. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 68 points, or 70 points above fair value, at 12,637. Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by 10 points, or 11 points above fair value, at 1346, and Nasdaq futures were ahead by 16 points, or 16 points above fair value. Stocks strengthened Wednesday as investors overlooked an interest rate hike in China and a downgrade to Portugal's debt to focus on upcoming June jobs data. The
Bank of England kept its key interest rate at 0.5%, as expected. In another expected move, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.5%. The FTSE in London was gaining 0.7%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.5%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.06% while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.1%. Automatic Data Processing said companies added 157,000 payrolls in June, surpassing expectations for job gains of 60,000, according to Briefing.com. June's level compares to an increase of 36,000 in May. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 14,000 to 418,000 in the week ended July 2, which was a bigger decline than market estimates for claims to fall by 4,000 to 425,000 from last week's initially reported level of 428,000.
The end of the week brings the government's June jobs report. Economists expect to see that the economy added 80,000 jobs in June after adding 54,000 in May. The unemployment rate is projected to remain unchanged at 9.1%, according to Briefing.com. Shares of Visa ( V) were falling 3.2% to $85.41 ahead of Thursday's opening bell after the
global payments company said it's expecting slower revenue growth because of a U.S. regulatory crackdown on debit card processing fees.
Blackstone ( BX) is in talks to buy Kinetic Concepts ( KCI) for $5 billion, making it one of the
largest leveraged buyouts since the financial crisis if the deal closes, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Shares of Costco ( COST) were rising 0.4% to $83 after the warehouse retailer said same-store sales jumped 14% in June, beating analysts' expectations for an increase of 12.7%. A federal judge denied a request from Apple ( AAPL) to prevent online retailer Amazon.com ( AMZN) from using the phrase "App Store." Congressional leaders will meet at the White House on Thursday as President Barack Obama makes a final push to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit. At 11 a.m., the Energy Information Administration will give its weekly report on energy inventories. Analysts are expecting crude oil inventories to shed 2.5 million barrels in the week ended July 1, according to a Platts poll. Late Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute said crude supplies fell by 3.17 million barrels last week. The August crude oil contract was adding 82 cents to trade at $97.47 a barrel. Gold for August delivery was down by $1.70 at $1,527.50 an ounce. The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 7/32, lifting the yield to 3.136%. The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.4%. . -- Written by Melinda Peer in New York.