US STOCKS-Futures gain ahead of jobless claims data

* Portuguese PM’s resignation reignites bailout fears

* U.S. jobless claims data on tap

* Futures up: S&P 6.2 pts, Dow 48 pts, Nasdaq 20 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures
rose on Thursday as investors shifted focus to jobs data later
in the morning, temporarily brushing off euro zone debt
concerns.

* Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned and
warned of grave consequences for the country after parliament
rejected his government’s latest austerity measures aimed at
avoiding a bailout. The resignation increased expectations
Lisbon will seek international aid. It also threw into disarray
a European Union summit later this week expected to address the
region’s debt crisis. For details, see [ID:nLDE72N0AM]

* Oracle Corp (ORCL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) is due to report results later in
the day and offer any evidence of the upward curve of
technology spending.[ID:nN23112356]

* Other companies due to announce results include Best Buy
Co Inc (BBY.N: Quote, Profile, Research), ConAgra Foods Inc (CAG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Darden
Restaurants Inc (DRI.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

* The Labor Department releases first-time claims for
jobless benefits for the week ended March 19 at 8:30 a.m. EDT
(1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of
383,000 new filings, compared with 385,000 in the prior week.

* At the same time, the Commerce Department will release
February durable goods orders data. Economists expect a rise of
1.1 percent versus a 3.2 percent increase in January.

* S&P 500 futures (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were up 6.2 points, and 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 (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 48
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 20 points.

* Rating agency Moody’s downgraded its ratings for 30
Spanish banks by one or more notches, citing a weak outlook
with no major improvement in sight. The agency cut Spain
sovereign debt rating on March 10. [ID:nLDE72N0B1]

* Western warplanes hit Libya for a fifth night, but have
failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks from shelling rebel-held
towns. [ID:nLDE72N006]

* Stores in Tokyo were running out of bottled water after
radiation from a damaged nuclear complex briefly made tap water
unsafe for babies, while more nations curbed imports of
Japanese food. [ID:nL3E7EN3MI]

* In Europe, shares edged higher in early trade, lifted by
retailers after upbeat results in the sector, though low
volumes showed investors were staying on the sidelines as
caution over the euro zone debt crisis lingered.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Futures gain ahead of jobless claims data