* Brent crude inches above $65 a barrel
* Starboard Value takes stakes in Office Depot, Staples
* Initial claims, retail sales data due
* Futures up: Dow 21 pts, S&P 3 pts, Nasdaq 1.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were up slightly on Thursday, after a three-day drop by the S&P 500 as oil prices advanced and ahead of a flurry of economic data.
* The benchmark S&P index dropped more than 1 percent on Wednesday and has shed 2.4 percent over the past three sessions, it’s worst run in two months, as weakness in oil prices has weighed heavily on the energy sector.
* Falling oil prices have added to worries about global demand and raised concerns about earnings for energy companies, with year-end tax selling putting additional pressure on the group. The sector is down 14.7 percent for the year and is the worst performing of the 10 major S&P sectors.
* Brent crude managed to climb back above the $65 mark but remained near five-year lows while U.S. crude rose 1.1 percent to $61.60.
* Investors await a trio of economic data reports at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), including weekly initial jobless claims data, November retail sales and import prices for November. Initial claims are expected to show a reading of 295,000 while retail sales are expected to rise by 0.4 percent. Import prices are forecast to decline by 1.8 percent.
* The data may influence investors’ expectations on whether the Fed will adjust its language to keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time” when policymakers meet next week.
* Later in the session at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), business inventories data for October is expected.
* U.S.-listed shares of Teva Pharmaceutical edged down 0.5 percent to $56.10 in premarket trade after the generic drugmaker gave its 2015 outlook.
* Lululemon Athletica lost 1 percent to $46.25 in premarket trading after the maker of yoga apparel posted quarterly results.
* Staples Inc jumped 11.4 percent to $16.50 and Office Depot climbed 9.9 percent to $7.39 before the opening bell after Activist investor Starboard Value LP disclosed stakes in both office-supply retailers in a move that could set up a potential merger.
* European shares edged lower, as the slump in oil and iron ore prices weighed on a number of resource-related stocks, but declines were curbed by expectations for further monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank. In Asia, stocks fell as falling oil prices added to global growth concerns.
Futures snapshot at 7:26 a.m. EST (1226 GMT):
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.15 percent, with 196,161 contracts changing hands.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.03 percent, in volume of 40,072 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.12 percent, with 36,481 contracts changing hands. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)