US STOCKS-Futures higher as earnings pour in; claims data on tap
* Earnings due from Exxon, 3M Co
* Verizon looking at bid for Verizon Wireless - sources
* Futures up: Dow 52 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 11 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday, ahead of a raft of earnings, including those of ExxonMobil and 3M Co, along with data on the labor market.
* Dow component ExxonMobil Corp, the largest U.S. company by market capitalization is due to report its results, a day after the company boosted its quarterly dividend.
* Fellow Dow component 3M Co is also due to report, along with Amazon.com Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb , Coca-Cola Enterprises, Harley-Davidson and Starbucks.
* Data on the labor market is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) with the release of weekly initial jobless claims data. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 351,000 new filings compared with 352,000 in the prior week.
* Verizon Communications Inc will be in focus after sources told Reuters it has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from joint venture partner, Vodafone Group Plc.
* S&P 500 futures rose 5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 52 points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1 points.
* PulteGroup Inc, the No. 2 U.S. homebuilder, returned to a quarterly profit after reporting a loss a year earlier, as it benefited from low mortgage rates.
* Akami Technologies Inc surged 19.5 percent to $43.12 in premarket trading after the internet content delivery company forecast second-quarter results above analysts' expectations late on Wednesday.
* Earnings season has been largely positive, with 68.4 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning. Since 1994, 63 percent have surpassed estimates on average, while the beat rate is 67 percent for the past four quarters.
* Analysts see earnings growth of 3.1 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.
* European shares paused after four straight sessions of gains, on the back of disappointing earnings reports from Santander and Unilever.
* Asian shares rose, with recovering commodities and views that a run of weak global economic data will encourage major central banks to keep or deepen their monetary stimulus improving risk sentiment.
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