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Futures edge higher ahead of jobless claims data, earnings reports

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(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, with energy and mega-cap technology stocks gaining ahead of a new batch of earnings reports and data that allow investors to gauge the pace of the labor market recovery.

The Labor Department’s report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell for the week ended July 17, amid rampant worker shortages.

Investors have been closely following the health of the jobs market on which the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy hinges, especially after a series of higher inflation reading recently sparked fears about a sooner-than expected paring of policy support as the economy reopens.

A shift in attention to corporate earnings and the so-called value stocks have helped Wall Street recoup most of its declines from earlier in the week that were triggered by concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Second-quarter earnings are expected to grow 75% for S&P 500 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES estimates, with 88% of the 73 reported companies in the benchmark index beating consensus expectations.

Abbott Laboratories, Domino’s Pizza Inc, Biogen Inc, Snap Inc and Intel Corp are among the major companies reporting results later in the day.

AT&T Inc added 0.9% as the telecom operator beat analysts’ estimates for monthly phone bill paying subscriber additions in the second quarter, fueled by more Americans converting to 5G phones.

Dow Inc rose 1.3% after its second-quarter profit doubled from the first, as prices for its chemicals used in plastics and packaging rose on the back of strong consumer and industrial demand as well as lower inventories.

Energy stocks Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil, Schlumberger NV, Occidental Petroleum and Marathon Petroleum Corp climbed between 0.1% and 1%, tracking crude prices. [O/R]

At 6:44 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 85 points, or 0.25%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.21%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 21.75 points, or 0.15%. Futures traded within 1% from their record highs on Thursday.

Texas Instruments Inc fell 5.1% after it forecast current-quarter revenue slightly below Wall Street estimates amid concerns about the chipmaker’s ability to meet searing demand in the face of a global shortage.

Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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