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US STOCKS-Futures edge up, jobless claims on tap

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose slightly on Thursday, ahead of data on the jobs market due later in the morning, with investors poised to push the rally to new highs.

* The Dow racked up record levels for the second day in a row on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 inched up to just 1.5 percent below its own record close.

* A report on initial jobless claims due at 8:30 am ET (1300 GMT) was expected to show the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly to 355,000 last week, and the trend of a slowly improving job market is seen to be intact.

* Investor attention will remain on the labor market ahead of Friday's non-farm payroll report, which is expected to show the economy added 160,000 jobs in February.

S&P 500 futures rose 2 points 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 gained 38 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4 points.

* Other data on tap includes the trade balance and consumer credit, both for January. [ECI/US}

* Focus will also be on action from central banks around the world. In an announcement later in the morning, the European Central Bank was expected to hold its interest rates at a record low 0.75 percent, though it is seen eschewing dramatic action to help struggling euro zone countries.

* The Bank of England decided not to pump more money into Britain's ailing economy, while it left rates at 0.5 percent.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130307/us-stocks-futures-edge-jobless-claims-tap