By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged
up on Thursday, suggesting investors will attempt to hold on to
recent gains, with data on the jobs market due to be released
later in the morning.
The Dow surged to record levels for a second day on
Wednesday, while the S&P 500 inched up to just 1.5 percent below
its own record close.
A strengthening economy and loose monetary policy by central
banks around the world have pushed U.S. equity markets higher
this year. While some expect the market will ease off its
current lofty levels, so far, dips have been short-lived as
investors look for an opportunity to buy.
"It appears the positive feeling in this market has shifted
(the attitude) a bit from waiting for a pullback to put money to
work, to not missing a train that's leaving the station," said
Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New
A report on initial jobless claims due at 8:30 am ET (1300
GMT) is expected to show the number of people filing for
unemployment benefits rose slightly to 355,000 last week.
Investor attention will remain on the labor market ahead of
Friday's non-farm payroll report, which is expected to show the
economy added 160,000 jobs in February. Though high unemployment
has been a weak spot of the economic recovery, the labor market
is seen to be healing slowly.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 point and were slightly
below 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
14 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.75 points.
Other data on tap includes the trade balance and consumer
credit, both for January. [ECI/US}
Investors have also been keeping an eye on policy decisions
by central banks around the world. The European Central Bank
held its main interest rate at a record low of 0.75 percent,
while the Bank of England also held rates steady.
Network equipment maker Ciena jumped 10.7 percent
to $16.54 after reporting first-quarter results.
Dell Inc said shareholder Carl Icahn has urged the
company to pursue a leveraged recapitalization and pay a $9 per
share dividend instead of going private.
Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell has struck a $24.4 billion
deal to take the No. 3 personal computer-maker private, but some
key shareholders oppose it.
Time Warner said late on Wednesday it will spin off
its magazine unit into a separate company.