Stock futures inch up before ECB meeting, U.S. data


U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, ahead of a central bank decision in Europe and the release of U.S. data on the labor and manufacturing sectors.

Spanish borrowing costs mostly fell at a bond auction but uncertainty over whether the government will ask for an international bailout pressured benchmark yields higher and kept European equities volatile.

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Spain will continue to be the focus as the European Central Bank meets, with investors expecting Madrid, which is at the sharp end of the euro zone debt crisis, to ask for an aid package that would allow the ECB to buy its bonds.

"The major takeaway for what's going on is the Spanish bond auction," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC in New York.

"It will be interesting to hear what (ECB president Mario) Draghi has to say, especially on the hesitancy of Spain to ask for a bailout."

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 on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 40 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 11.5 points.

The U.S. Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended September 29 at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a total of 370,000 new filings compared with 359,000 in the prior week.

The Commerce Department releases August factory orders at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a fall of 5.8 percent compared with a 2.8 percent increase in the prior month.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from the September 12-13 meeting of its policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT).

The Bank of England kept its government bond purchases program unchanged as the economy shows some signs of growth and new schemes to boost credit may spur fresh lending.

U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp posted a better-than-expected 6 percent rise in September sales at stores open at least a year.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)