NEW YORK�U.S. stock futures edged higher ahead of the release of data on jobless claims and wholesale inflation. Gains in Europe and Japan helped to put blue-chip stocks on an early track to extend their longest winning streak in 16 years.
About 90 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures advanced 17 points, or 0.1%, to 14415. The Dow rose 5 points, or less than 0.1%, on Wednesday to post its ninth-straight gain, the longest stretch since November 1996.
Standard & Poor's 500-stock index futures added three points, or 0.2%, to 1553 and Nasdaq 100 futures tacked on eight points, or 0.3%, to 2802. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.In the Markets
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Initial claims for unemployment benefits in the latest week, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT, are expected to rise to 350,000 from the previous week's 340,000. Also due at 8:30 a.m. is the producer-price index for February. Economists expect the index rose 0.7% from January, and 0.1% excluding food and energy
The fourth-quarter current account deficit is expected to be $112.6 billion.
European markets were broadly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 rising 0.6% to the highest level seen since June 2008, as a well-received Spanish government bond auctionand dovish comments from a European Central Bank official helped offset weak employment data. Spain's IBEX 35 climbed rose 1.1%.
Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen said given that inflationary expectations remain anchored, the ECB's policy stance will remain accommodative. That helped soothe concerns after data showed that the number ofpeople who have jobs in the euro zone during the fourth quarter fell to the lowest level in nearly seven years.
Asian markets moved mostly higher. Weakness in the yen helped boost Japanese stocks, and China snapped a five-session losing streak. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbed 1.2% to close at a 4 1/2-year high due to gains by exporters. China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.3% after shedding 3.5% over the last week amid worries about the government's efforts to curb property prices.
The dollar rose against the yen for the first time in three sessions and traded at three-month highs against the euro.
April oil futures eased 0.4% to $92.12 a barrel, while March gold futures slipped 0.1% to $1,587.20 an ounce.
In corporate news, shares of E*Trade Financial slumped. The discount broker announced a secondary offering of about 27.4 million shares, as its largest shareholder, hedge fund Citadel Equity Fund, is selling its entire stake in the company.
Research In Motion, soon to be known as BlackBerry, gained ahead of the open. Wednesday, it surged 8.2% in response to the company's announcement that an "established partner" placed an order for one million BlackBerry 10 smartphones.
Men's Wearhouse rallied . The apparel retailer said it was evaluating alternatives for its K&G brand and that it was increasing its stock buyback program by about $155 million. That helped overshadow disappointing fiscal fourth-quarter results.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters said it was laying off a total of 74 full-time employees and 36 seasonal employees, or less than 2% of its North American workforce, at production facilities in California, Toronto and Montreal, as it looks to improve manufacturing efficiency. The stock was still inactive ahead of the open.