U.S. stock index futures unchanged; data eyed

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat opening on Wall
Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: ) down
0.04 percent, Dow Jones (DJc1: ) futures up 0.01 percent and
Nasdaq 100 (NDc1: ) futures up 0.01 percent at 0917 GMT.

* Energy shares will be in the spotlight as oil prices
climbed to near a two-year high on Thursday, boosted by an
unexpected surge in global demand that has fuelled the biggest
drop in U.S. crude oil stockpiles in more than a decade. [O/R]

* Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY.O: ) beat quarterly profit estimates
and gave a strong outlook for the period covering the holidays
as U.S. consumers spent more on their homes, sending its shares

* Rovi Corp (ROVI.O: ) will pay $720 million in cash and
stock to buy Sonic Solutions (SNIC.O: ), which owns the popular
digital video player software DivX, in a bid to broaden its
footprint across the digital entertainment space.

* Defence contractor Raytheon Co (RTN.N: ) recommended on
Wednesday that shareholders reject an unsolicited “mini-tender
offer” by TRC Capital Corp to buy up to 2 million common shares,
or about 0.5 percent of its outstanding stock.

* South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said its military
should launch a “merciless counter-attack” if its territory is
attacked again by North Korea, as Seoul’s military held major
land and sea exercises on Thursday. North Korea responded to the
show of military might by denouncing its neighbour as a
warmonger, but stopped short of threatening a retaliatory strike
as tensions simmered following the North’s shelling of a
southern island last month.

* European shares inched higher in morning trade, extending
their sharp December rally as buoyant oil prices boosted energy
shares such as BP (BP.L: ) and ENI (ENI.MI: ). At 0833 GMT the
FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares was up
0.05 percent at 1,148.11 points, on track to record its best
monthly performance since mid-2009.

* The S&P 500 rose on Wednesday to its highest level since
the collapse of Lehman Brothers, led by bank stocks that have
leapfrogged other sectors in December.

* The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) added 26.33
points, or 0.23 percent, to 11,559.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500
Index (.SPX: ) gained 4.24 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,258.84.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) edged up 3.87 points, or 0.15
percent, at 2,671.48.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

U.S. stock index futures unchanged; data eyed