June 27, 2013 / 1:08 PM / in 4 years

US STOCKS-Wall St to climb at open after claims, spending data

* Initial claims dip, personal income and spending climb

* Fed Presidents Lockhart, Dudley to speak

* ConAgra rises in premarket after outlook

* Futures up: Dow 79 pts, S&P 10 pts, Nasdaq 14.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may climb for a third straight day, after data showed a decline in weekly jobless claims while consumer spending and incomes improved.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, roughly in line with expectations of 345,000 claims.

Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent last month after a revised 0.3 percent drop in April while incomes grew 0.5 percent, the largest gain since February.

The benchmark S&P 500 had dropped as much as 4.8 percent in the days following a June 19 statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, when Chairman Ben Bernanke said growth was strong enough for the Fed to start slowing its stimulative bond purchases later this year.

However, the index has rebounded a little to climb 1.9 percent over the past two sessions as economic data and comments from Fed officials quelled fears over an earlier-than-expected pullback of stimulus.

“Nobody is sitting there and saying ‘here is the smoking gun that is going to prove that Bernanke has got to remove stimulus’,” said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.

“The nervous money has hit the exits and the objective reaction to Bernanke’s comments is he really didn’t say anything that should spook the market.”

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley is scheduled to give remarks on the national and regional economy before a briefing on labor market conditions for recent college graduates at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT) while Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is due to speak on the economic outlook at 12:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).

S&P 500 futures rose 10 points and were 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 79 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14.75 points.

Later in the session at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), the National Association of Realtors issues Pending Home Sales for May. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 1.0 percent rise compared with a 0.3 percent increase in April.

In corporate news, ConAgra Foods Inc rose 2.8 percent to $34.28 in premarket trade after the food manufacturer reported a quarterly profit slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates and raised its long-term outlook.

U.S.-listed shares of Barrick Gold advanced 1.7 percent to $15.03 in premarket trading, as gold prices edged higher following a 12-percent drop over the past eight sessions.

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