US STOCKS-Futures set equities up for second day of gains; claims data due
* Initial claims data on tap
* Family Dollar falls in premarket after earnings
* Brent crude holds above $51 a barrel
* Futures up: Dow 178 pts, S&P 19.5 pts, Nasdaq 41.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, putting equities on track for a second straight day of gains after the S&P 500 snapped a five-day losing skid and ahead of data on the labor market.
* The benchmark S&P index climbed 1.2 percent on Wednesday to snap its longest losing streak in about 13 months, notching its biggest gain since Dec. 18. The advance came after strong private sector jobs data and minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting reassured investors the bank was in no hurry to start raising interest rates.
* After reaching a record high on Dec. 29, the S&P dropped 4.2 percent in the course of its losing streak, with headwinds from a continued rout in oil prices and the possibility of Greece's exit from the euro zone following its upcoming elections.
* Investors will eye weekly initial jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) for signs of continued strengthen in the labor market. Expectations call for claims to fall to 290,000 from the 298,000 in the prior week. The key monthly payrolls report is expected on Friday. Continuación...