U.S. stock futures edge up; await U.S. jobs data

* Futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: ), Dow Jones (DJc1: ) and
Nasdaq (NDc1: ) were 0.02 to 0.2 percent higher at 0917 GMT,
pointing to a slightly firmer start for equities on Thursday.

* At 1230 GMT, investors will eye the release of U.S. Labor
Dept first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended
Aug. 14. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of
476,000 new filings compared with 484,000 in the prior week.

* Other economic indicators set to be released on Thursday
include U.S. July leading economic indicators and the
Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank August business activity
survey. Both are due out at 1400 GMT.

* Earnings will be in focus, with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ: )
reporting third-quarter figures, and Dell (DELL.O: ), Gamestop
(GME: ), Gap (GPS: ), Salesforce.com (CRM.C: ), Sears (SHLD.O: ) and
Staples (SPLS.O: ) all releasing second-quarter results.

* In corporate news, BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ) is focusing on
getting regulatory approval for its $39 billion hostile bid for
Potash Corp (POT.TO: ) before trying in earnest to win over the
Canadian company’s shareholders, a source said on Thursday.
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* American International Group Inc (AIG.N: ) is laying the
groundwork for its first debt offering in two years, in what
could be a key measure of whether investors think the bailed-out
insurance giant can stand on its own and ultimately repay
taxpayer funds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

* In earnings news after the bell on Wednesday, U.S. data
storage equipment maker NetApp Inc’s (NTAP.O: ) quarterly profit
more than doubled, but its revenue beat Wall Street estimates by
the smallest margin in four quarters.

* Congressional analysts are set to release an authoritative
outlook on budget deficits on Thursday, as U.S. President Barack
Obama tries to ease voter anxiety about the spending gaps that
some fear may thwart efforts to revive the economy.
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* Oil rose to over $76 on Thursday, boosted by a rally in
Asian equities, as investors focused on the prospects for
accelerating Chinese demand for natural resources.
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* European shares edged 0.1 percent higher on Thursday, with
Nokia (NOK1V.HE: ) up on acquisition talk, although gains were
limited as cement-maker Holcim (HOLN.VX: ) fell on poor earnings
and a cautious outlook.

* Wall Street rose on Wednesday, led by gains in consumer
stocks after a sales forecast from discounter Target Corp
(TGT.N: ) temporarily quelled concerns about consumer demand.
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The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was up 0.1 percent,
the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) was up 0.2 percent and
the Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 0.3 percent.
(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; editing by Simon Jessop)

U.S. stock futures edge up; await U.S. jobs data