US STOCKS-Futures higher after 3-day rally, ahead of QE2 end

Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:08am EDT

* Jobless claims, manufacturing data on tap

* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 0.5 pt, Nasdaq 5.75 pts

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

NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a fourth day of gains for Wall Street on Thursday, the day the Federal Reserve ends its QE2 bond buying program, as optimism that Greece's debt problems are getting resolved helped lift equities from their recent lows.

* The S&P 500 gained more than 3 percent in its best three-day run in three months this week as the Greek parliament adopted austerity measures to avoid a debt default. The parliament is expected to pass a second austerity measure on Thursday. For details, see [ID:nL3E7HU09J]

* The Federal Reserve ends its $600 billion bond-buying program, known as QE2, on Thursday and has not offered any hints of more monetary easing. Markets were volatile in May and June, partly on concerns about QE2's end. [ID:nN1E75Q0FF]

* S&P 500 futures SPc1 added 0.5 point and were 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 gained 22 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 rose 5.75 points.

* The S&P 500 retook its April low at around 1,295, putting a floor under the market, but analysts said it could struggle to pass back above its 50-day moving average at around 1,316.

* With new signs of a slowdown in the U.S. economy, investors will closely watch key data coming during the morning.

* The Labor Department releases first-time weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 420,000 new filings, compared with 429,000 in the prior week.

* The Chicago PMI is expected to show activity in the U.S. Midwest slowed in June. The data comes at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT) In addition, the Institute for Supply Management in New York releases at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) its June index of regional business activity.

* News Corp (NWSA.O) secured UK government backing for its controversial buyout of British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC (BSY.L) after a key minister rejected complaints it would give News Chairman Rupert Murdoch too much power and influence. [ID:nL3E7HU0QF]

* AMR Corp's AMR.N American Airlines is negotiating with aircraft makers Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing Co (BA.N) to replace its entire domestic fleet by purchasing at least 250 airplanes in a deal valued at about $15 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. [ID:nN1E75S28E]

* Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N) will spend what it takes to come up with innovative drugs over the long term, its chief executive said, even though its earnings are expected to tumble over the next three years. [ID:nN1E75S243]

* The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares was up 0.3 percent early Thursday, while Japan's Nikkei average .N225 closed 0.2 percent higher. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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