US STOCKS-Futures trade higher ahead of jobless claims data

* Portuguese PM’s resignation reignites bailout fears

* U.S. jobless claims data on tap

* Futures up: S&P 10.3 pts, Dow 82 pts, Nasdaq 22 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Adds quote, Best Buy results, byline)

By Angela Moon

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.

But futures volume remaining light, suggesting optimism was
limited in scope, and analysts said the market could easily
reverse course back to the downside.

“We are at the quarter end, and the fact that we’ve had a
good earnings season, continued expansion of the economy and
also relatively cheap valuation (in stocks) looking forward is
helping the market,” said Peter Kenny, managing director at
Knight Equity Markets in New Jersey.

“But the extremely light volume is making it very easy for
the market to gain or lose.”

Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shares rose 5.9 percent to $33.80
in premarket trade after it reported results. For details, see
[ID:nASA01T6X]

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.

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. [ID:nLDE72N0AM]

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were up 10.3 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 82
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 22 points.

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]

The Commerce Department will release February durable
goods orders data at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists expect a rise of
1.1 percent versus a 3.2 percent increase in January.

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]

Global stocks inched up and were now higher than when
Japan’s earthquake and tsunami struck, buoyed by confidence
that the world economic recovery remains on track. The MSCI
All-Country index has recouped losses since March 11.
[ID:nLDE72N0P4]
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Futures trade higher ahead of jobless claims data