NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday after Bank of America Corp said it would repay $45 billion in taxpayer bailout funds.
* Bank of America (BAC.N) shares rose 4.5 percent to $16.35 in premarket trade after the surprise announcement on Wednesday, which marks a victory for outgoing Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis and could free the top U.S. lender from pay curbs as it looks to hire a new CEO. For details, see [ID:nN0250856]
* The Select Sector SPDR Financial ETF XLF.P rose 1.2 percent to $14.66.
* "The news out of Bank of America and most likely the economic data continuing to show the economy is in a growth mode means we are looking at a market that will move higher," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.
* "The risk factor continues to grow, which is supporting higher equity prices."
* Investors awaited data on productivity, weekly jobless claims and ISM non-manufacturing index as well as November same-store sales from major retail chains. Early data from Thanksgiving weekend shopping from Thursday through Sunday showed only a slight increase in sales, pressuring retailer shares.
* Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) struck a deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co (GE.N), creating a media superpower that would control production as well as delivery to the home. [ID:nN03267923]
* S&P 500 futures SPc1 rose 4.5 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 DJc1 gained 37 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 added 4 points.
* Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) posted a 6 percent rise in November same-store sales, aided by an increase in gas prices and a weaker U.S. dollar, but fell short of estimates. [ID:nBNG485495]
* Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N) recorded a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, but said it was seeing signs of recovery from a declining cancellation rate and an improved pace of contract signings.
* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will go before lawmakers considering his nomination to a second term at the central bank's helm.
* European shares edged higher for a third consecutive session Thursday as Bank of America boosted financials. [ID:nGEE5B20SR] Asian stocks also advanced, led by a nearly 4 percent jump in the Nikkei index. [ID:nSP104615]
* The Nasdaq rose Wednesday as strong online holiday sales boosted retailers, while the Dow edged lower as falling oil prices prompted a sell-off in energy shares, and the Standard & Poor's 500 finished flat. [ID:nN0240925]
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
((Charles.email@example.com; +1 646 223 5234; Reuters Messaging:rm://Charles.firstname.lastname@example.org))