Stock index futures point to higher open

Thu May 3, 2012 4:43am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 rising 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

The Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week that ended April 28 at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 380,000 new filings, compared with 388,000 in the prior week.

The Labor Department releases preliminary Q1 Productivity and Unit Labor Costs at 1230 GMT. Economists forecast productivity to fall 0.5 percent, versus a 0.9 percent rise in the revised Q4 report. Unit Labor Costs are expected to rise 2.8 percent, a repeat of the Q4 increase.

Major companies announcing results on Thursday include AIG (AIG.N: Quote), Kraft Foods KFT.N, First Solar (FSLR.O: Quote) and Cigna (CI.N: Quote).

Shares in Whole Foods Market (WFM.O: Quote) were up 2.9 percent after the bell on Wednesday following the release of its results. Symantec Corp (SYMC.O: Quote) was down 4.3 percent, while Novatel Wireless Inc NVTL.O was down 5.7 percent after the companies announced results.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its April non-manufacturing index at 1400 GMT. Economists forecast a reading of 55.5, versus 56.0 in March.

ICSC releases chain store sales for April versus a year ago. In March, sales rose 4.1 percent versus a year earlier.

Dutch food and chemicals group DSM (DSMN.AS: Quote) is buying U.S. medical device-maker Kensey Nash Corp KNSY.O for $360 million to strengthen its biomedical business, leaving it with plenty of cash for more deals.

Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: Quote) posted a 4 percent rise in comparable sales in April, falling short of analysts' forecasts as the strong dollar depressed the value of its overseas sales.   Continued...