* Earnings due from Exxon, 3M Co
* Verizon looking at bid for Verizon Wireless - sources
* Futures up: Dow 52 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 11 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures
advanced on Thursday, ahead of a raft of earnings, including
those of ExxonMobil and 3M Co, along with data on the labor
* Dow component ExxonMobil Corp, the largest U.S.
company by market capitalization is due to report its results, a
day after the company boosted its quarterly dividend.
* Fellow Dow component 3M Co is also due to report,
along with Amazon.com Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb
, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Harley-Davidson
* Data on the labor market is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230
GMT) with the release of weekly initial jobless claims data.
Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 351,000 new
filings compared with 352,000 in the prior week.
* Verizon Communications Inc will be in focus after
sources told Reuters it has hired advisers to prepare a possible
$100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon
Wireless from joint venture partner, Vodafone Group Plc.
* S&P 500 futures rose 5 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 52
points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1 points.
* PulteGroup Inc, the No. 2 U.S. homebuilder,
returned to a quarterly profit after reporting a loss a year
earlier, as it benefited from low mortgage rates.
* Akami Technologies Inc surged 19.5 percent to
$43.12 in premarket trading after the internet content delivery
company forecast second-quarter results above analysts'
expectations late on Wednesday.
* Earnings season has been largely positive, with 68.4
percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far
beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data through
Tuesday morning. Since 1994, 63 percent have surpassed estimates
on average, while the beat rate is 67 percent for the past four
* Analysts see earnings growth of 3.1 percent this quarter,
up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.
* European shares paused after four straight sessions of
gains, on the back of disappointing earnings reports from
Santander and Unilever.
* Asian shares rose, with recovering commodities and views
that a run of weak global economic data will encourage major
central banks to keep or deepen their monetary stimulus
improving risk sentiment.