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Stock Futures Gain on Upbeat Labor Market Numbers

Tickers in this article: BBBY JCP ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were rising Thursday, pointing to a modest rebound in equities after the S&P 500 fell for a fifth straight day, its longest losing streak since December, as the latest jobless claims numbers provided a constructive read on the labor market ahead of next week's widely watched non-farm payrolls report.

Gains were limited amid the threat of a U.S. public default. On Wednesday U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned the country could begin to run out of money to pay its bills as early as mid-October.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 3.75 points, or 3.98 points above fair value, to 1,689.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were higher by 31 points, or 46.74 points above fair value, to 15,241. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 15.5 points, or 15.7 points above fair value, to 3,215.5.

Bed Bath & Beyond was surging more than 6% to $78.72 after the housewares and home decor company reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit and revenue.

"It's been my long-held view that the trick to the bull market since March 2009 is to stay on the beast and avoid getting thrown off," Ed Yardeni, New York-based chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said in a note. "That's still my opinion. Nevertheless, an October correction triggered by a fiscal fiasco in Washington is still possible."

Jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a lower than expected 305,000 in the week ended Sept. 21, the Labor Department reported. That was better than the 325,000 figure Wall Street had expected. Furthermore, the four-week moving average on jobless claims decreased by 7,000 to 308,000, the lowest level since June 2007.

Meanwhile the third estimate on U.S. gross domestic product expansion in the second quarter came in unchanged from the previous estimate at 2.5%, the Commerce Department reported. An increase to 2.6% was expected.

Also expected Thursday is a pending-home sales report for August at 10 a.m. from the National Association of Realtors.

Investors Thursday were looking out for more potential remarks on quantitative easing from Federal Reserve officials. Federal Reserve Gov. Jeremy Stein is expected to give a speech on yield-oriented investors in Frankfurt at 10:10 a.m. EDT. Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Narayana Kocherlakota is scheduled to speak to the Rotary Club in Houghton, Mich., at 12:15 p.m. Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George is expected to give a speech on the economy in Denver at 9:15 p.m.

The DAX in Germany was off 0.27% while the FTSE 100 was down 0.1%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed down 0.36%. The Nikkei 225 increased 1.22% after Kyodo News reported that Japan's government was looking into the possibility of slashing corporate taxes, offsetting uncertainties about the U.S. debt ceiling talks.