Wall Street set to extend gains on recovery optimism

* Wall Street was set to edge up on Thursday, the last day
of the first quarter, extending gains a day after labour data
helped to boost confidence on the prospects for economic
recovery.

* At 0859 GMT, futures for the Dow Jones (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research), S&P 500
(SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) and Nasdaq (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were up between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.

* The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of leading European
shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,133.24 points, with banks lower
ahead of the results of stress tests for Irish banks.

* Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to continue to
inch lower, to 380,000 from 382,000 the week before. Annual
revisions will also be released, which could alter the level as
seasonal adjustment factors will be updated.

* Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) stepped up its rivalry with Google
Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Thursday by filing a formal complaint with the
European Commission claiming Google systematically thwarts
Internet search competition. [ID:nN31223364]

* Fiat (FIA.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) boss Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday he
wanted to raise the Italian carmaker’s stake in Chrysler to 51
percent this year, but hinted taking the company public may be
pushed into 2012. [ID:nLDE72T0IN]

* British housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW.L: Quote, Profile, Research) has sold its
North American business to a group of private equity firms for
$955 million, in a long-awaited deal that will help it cut debt
and focus on its UK business. [ID:nLDE72U0A8]

* U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, as unaltered expectations
for a healthy number on Friday’s labour market data, following a
reassuring figure on private payrolls, kept sentiment up.

* The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) added 0.6 percent,
the Standard & Poor’s 500 (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.7 percent; the Nasdaq
Composite (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 0.7 percent.

* The S&P 500 is up 5.6 percent so far this year.
(Reporting by Brian Gorman; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Wall Street set to extend gains on recovery optimism