US Stock Futures up amid Unemployment Claims drop

A drop in unemployment claims and a smaller-than-expected rise in wholesale prices helped sustain a modest rise U.S. stock market futures Thursday.

Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 24 at 13,154, as the blue chip index aimed for a seventh straight positive session. That would be the longest winning streak since February 2011.

S&P 500 futures gained 3.3 to 1,392. Nasdaq 100 futures added 9.25 to 2,712.

In the latest sign that the job market is gaining steam, the Labor Department said the number of applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 14,000 last week, matching a four-year low reached last month. Applications are at a level that indicates hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The government also said wholesale prices rose 0.4 percent in February, a shade less than the 0.5 percent economists expected, despite a spike in gas prices. The producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, has increased 3.3 percent in the past 12 months, the smallest yearly gain since August 2010.

The so-called “core” index, which excludes food and gas prices, increased 0.2 percent, the smallest gain in three months.

World markets were mixed, with a slip in oil prices offset by worries about slowing growth in China.

Oil traded below $106 a barrel, a day after a government report showed rising crude inventories, which indicates demand is low.

U.S. stocks to watch Thursday include Cisco Systems Inc., which slipped after announcing a $5 billion deal to buy NDS Group Ltd. from News Corp. Shares of the owner of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal edged higher.

Sears Holdings Corp. shares edged higher after the troubled department store chain said its top investor tried to ease vendors’ concerns early this year by taking on some of the risk that they would face if Sears filed for bankruptcy. These data have been reported by Associated Press.