Stock futures slightly higher as economic data awaited
By Ankur Banerjee
(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Thursday, after the S&P 500 posted its strongest two-day run since early March, and as investors await data to gauge the economy's strength.
* Oil topped the psychologically important $50 a barrel on Thursday, as a global supply glut showed signs of easing. [O/R]
* Wall Street rose robustly for a second straight session on Wednesday, helped by higher oil prices and investors becoming more comfortable with the prospect of an interest rate hike as early as next month.
* Comments from policymakers in recent days and upbeat U.S. economic data have raised expectations that the Federal Reserve could pull the trigger on a rate increase much sooner than previously thought.
* Traders are now pricing in a 32 percent chance of a rate hike in June, up from just 4 percent early last week, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.
* Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak at Harvard University on Friday.
* U.S. labor markets are relatively tight and may put upward pressure on inflation, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Thursday.
* Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell, a permanent voter on the Fed's rate-setting committee, is scheduled to speak later on Thursday. Continued...