US STOCKS-Futures gain on stimulus hopes ahead of jobless claims

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* Futures up: Dow 0.4%, S&P 0.5%, Nasdaq 0.5%

By Ambar Warrick

Dec 17 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday on increased hopes of imminent signing of a coronavirus stimulus bill, while investors kept an eye out for economic cues from weekly unemployment data due later in the day.

Negotiations were underway in Congress late on Wednesday over the details of a $900 billion aid bill, with top Democrats and Republicans sounding more positive than they have in months on a fresh response to a crisis that has killed more than 304,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work. are now awaiting weekly jobless claims data, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, after last week’s reading showed jobless claims jumping to a three-month high due to continued disruptions caused by the pandemic. E-minis EScv1 were up 20 points, or 0.54%, at 05:40 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis 1YMcv1 were up 127 points, or 0.42%, while E-minis NQcv1 were up 63.25 points, or 0.50%.

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates at near-zero levels on Wednesday and vowed to keep funneling cash into financial markets over the long term. Equity markets have been among the main beneficiaries of accommodative policy through the virus outbreak. Nasdaq ended Wednesday at a second consecutive record high, with technology stocks in demand due to their perceived resilience through the pandemic.

Big U.S. lenders including JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:) JPM.N , Wells Fargo (NYSE:) WFC.N , Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) MS.N , Citigroup Inc (NYSE:) C.N , Bank of America Corp (NYSE:) BAC.N and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:) GS.N rose between 0.3% and 0.8% in premarket trade.

MacroGenics Inc jumped 18.1% after the drug developer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its treatment for an advanced type of breast cancer.

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