US STOCKS-Futures up day after Yellen's comments weigh on markets
* Futures up: Dow 71 pts, S&P 9.25 pts, Nasdaq 26.5 pts
By Sweta Singh
Dec 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday, a day after Wall Street closed sharply lower following hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that hardened expectations of an interest rate hike this month.
* Yellen expressed confidence in the U.S. economy and said she was "looking forward" to a rate hike that will be seen as a testament to the economy's recovery from recession. The Fed's next policy meeting is on Dec. 15-16.
* Yellen is due to testify on the economic outlook before a joint Congressional committee scheduled at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Thursday.
* Investors also await a meeting of the European Central Bank, which is widely expected to ramp up its trillion-euro bond buying program.
* Weekly claims for U.S. unemployment benefits is expected to rise, but remain near 43-year lows as the labor market continues to tighten. The data will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT).
* October new orders for factory goods will be released at 1000 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) and is expected to show an increase after falling for a second straight month in September.
* Economic data in recent weeks has been mixed at best. While construction spending has risen, there has been a sharp downturn in the manufacturing surveys along with weaker retail sales. Continuación...