May 26, 2016 / 11:33 AM / a year ago

Stock futures slightly higher as economic data awaited

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

(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.

* Investors will also be focusing on a slew of economic reports. Data on durable goods for April is expected to show that orders rose by 0.5 percent, after rising 1.3 percent in March. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* Initial claims for state unemployment benefits are likely to have dropped for the second straight week. That report too is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* Pure Storage (PSTG.N) shares were down 15.5 percent at $12.44 in premarket trading after the data storage company’s earnings failed to impress investors.

* Dollar General (DG.N) rose 4.6 percent to $88 after the discount retailer reported a 7 percent rise in quarterly net sales.

Futures snapshot at 7:02 a.m. ET:

* S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, with 111,219 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 7.25 points, or 0.16 percent, on volume of 14,527 contracts.

* Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 27 points, or 0.15 percent, with 16,850 contracts changing hands.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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