* 3M Co falls after earnings, outlook
* Initial jobless claims fall in latest week
* Verizon looking at bid for Verizon Wireless - sources
* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 6.5 pts, Nasdaq 16 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Thursday, as investors dealt with a raft of earnings, including those of 3M Co and ExxonMobil, with added support from a drop in initial jobless claims.
ExxonMobil Corp dipped 0.5 percent to $89 in premarket trading. The largest U.S. company by market capitalization said its quarterly profit edged up, helped by higher earnings in its chemicals business but oil and gas production fell.
Fellow Dow component 3M Co lost 3.5 percent to $104.10 before the opening bell after the diversified U.S. manufacturer posted first-quarter earnings and revenue that missed Wall Street expectations and cut its 2013 profit forecast.
But United Parcel Service Inc, advanced 0.7 percent to $84.05 before the opening bell after the world's largest package-delivery company reported a quarterly profit above analysts' estimates.
"Investors coming into this earnings season were quite fearful, so even modestly positive news becomes great news and that is what we've experienced for the last several days," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors in Rochester, New York.
"It's probably a little early in the earnings season to talk about aggregate results but it's important to recognize that earnings are growing and so higher prices are deserved."
Economic data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the latest week dropped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 versus expectations for 351,000.
S&P 500 futures rose 6.5 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 42 points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 16 points.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc jumped 7.4 percent to $19.56 after the iron ore and metallurgical coal miner posted earnings that were much better than analysts' estimates after the close on Wednesday.
Akamai Technologies Inc surged 17.8 percent to $42.52 in premarket trading after the internet content delivery company posted first-quarter earnings above Wall Street estimates and forecast second-quarter results above analysts' expectations late on Wednesday.
Qualcomm Inc lost 5.8 percent to $62.20 before the opening bell after the mobile chipmaker forecast earnings below expectations late Wednesday.
Companies expected to post earnings after the close include Amazon.com Inc and Starbucks.
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. Verizon shares gained 1.2 percent to $52.40 in premarket.
Earnings season has been largely positive, with 68.4 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results through Wednesday morning 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 quarters.
Analysts see earnings growth of 3.1 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.
Revenues, however, have been disappointing, with only 40.1 percent of 119 reported companies having topped expectations, well short of the 62 percent average since 2002 and the 52 percent beat rate for the past four quarters.