* Yum Brands falls on avian flu sales impact
* Initial claims, import-export prices data on tap
* Futures: Dow up 33 pts, S&P up 1.6 pts, Nasdaq off 4.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, indicating the S&P may extend its historic highs amid signs China’s recovery may be gaining steam and ahead of U.S. labor market data.
* Both the Dow and S&P climbed more than 1 percent on Wednesday to close at historic highs, boosted by cyclical shares for a second consecutive day.
* Central bank data in China showed Chinese banks made 1.06 trillion yuan ($171.2 billion) of new local currency loans in March, pointing to a recovery being aided by a comfortable amount of credit.
* Investors will peruse weekly jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) for signs of life in the labor market after Friday’s disappointing payrolls report. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 365,000 new filings, compared with 385,000 in the prior week.
* Also due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) are import-export prices for March. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 0.5 percent drop in imports and a 0.1 percent rise in exports.
* S&P 500 futures rose 1.6 points and were slightly 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 rose 33 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 4.25 points.
* Shares of Yum Brands Inc dipped 2.6 percent to $65 in premarket trading after the biggest foreign fast-food chain operator in China said Wednesday the latest deadly avian flu outbreak would have a “significant, negative impact” on sales at KFC stores in China in April.
* Retailers will be in focus as they post monthly sales results. Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp reported a 4 percent rise in March sales at stores open at least a year, missing analysts’ expectations, due to lower fuel prices and a strong dollar.
* Microsoft Corp dropped 3.1 percent to $29.35 in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the stock to “sell” from “neutral.”
* Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said its production of oil and gas fell from a relatively strong fourth quarter as work on two of its three biggest U.S. refineries cut into downstream performance.
* Deutsche Telekom sweetened its terms on Wednesday for the proposed merger between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications by reducing the combined company’s debt, bowing to pressure from activists and proxy advisory firms.
* Three more top executives at J.C. Penney have left the ailing retailer, the New York Post reported, following the ouster of Chief Executive Ron Johnson.
* European shares paused after their biggest daily rise in three months in the previous session, with profit-taking in miners capping gains following record highs on the U.S. stock market.
* Asian shares were boosted by fresh data that underscored a recovery in China and Wall Street’s record closing overnight.