Stock futures slightly higher as economic data awaited

Thu May 26, 2016 7:29am EDT
 
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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...

 
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid