* Costco June sales top expectations
* Initial claims, import-export prices due
* Bernanke comments cool stimulus-slowing ideas
* Futures up: Dow 129 pts, S&P 16 pts, Nasdaq 26.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures climbed on Thursday, after comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated the central bank was unlikely to scale back its stimulus measures as early as recently expected.
* Bernanke, at an economic conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday, said a highly accommodative monetary policy was needed for the foreseeable future, and that the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent was overstating the health of the job market.
* The Fed chairman’s comments sent the dollar lower and boosted commodities such as gold and copper. U.S.-listed shares of Barrick Gold climbed 4.6 percent to $14.65 while Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold gained 2.4 percent to $28.26 in premarket trade.
* The S&P 500 has risen 2.4 percent over the past five sessions, the longest winning streak for the benchmark index since early March, as investors have been encouraged by improving economic data and in anticipation of a better-than-expected earnings season.
* Investors await weekly initial jobless claims data and June import-export prices, to be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 340,000 new filings. Import prices are expected to remain unchanged while export prices are expected to show a 0.1 percent decline.
* S&P 500 futures rose 16 points and were well above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 129 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 26.75 points.
* Retail stocks will garner attention as they post monthly sales results. Costco Wholesale Corp reported June same-store sales that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by higher fuel prices.
* Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 5.5 percent to $4.20 before the opening bell, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to “buy” from “underperform.”
* European shares hit five-week highs, led by growth-sensitive stocks, while Asian shares hit a near four-week high, after Bernanke’s comments.