* Futures up: Dow 72 pts, S&P 6.75 pts, Nasdaq 22.25 pts
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Feb 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday, fresh on the heels of a three-day rally, as oil prices continued to rise.
* Brent crude prices were up 2.5 percent, rising for the second straight day after Iran supported plans to freeze output and a report showed a surprise drop in U.S. inventory.
* Oil prices have heavily influenced stock markets this year as investors run for cover amid mounting concerns of a slowdown in global growth.
* The market rout and the global slowdown have also weighed on U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers, who are considering altering the central bank’s interest rate hike program for 2016.
* Jobless claims likely increased by 6,000 to 275,000 last week, a report due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT) is expected to show.
* Wall Street closed up on Wednesday, led by energy shares, with the S&P 500 and the Dow logging their first three-day run of gains for the year.
* Still, the S&P 500 is down 5.7 percent this year and off 9.6 percent from its peak close in May.
* Shares of Wal-Mart were down 4 percent at $63.48 premarket after the retailer cut its full-year sales growth forecast.
* IBM rose 2.8 percent to $129.65 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to “overweight”, saying the company’s transformation to a cloud-focused business is underappreciated.
* Nvidia was up 8.5 percent at $30 after the chipmaker’s revenue beat expectations.
* Perrigo was down 4.4 percent at $138.81 after the drugmaker reported a fourth-quarter loss.
Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 72 points, or 0.44 percent, with 28,246 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.75 points, or 0.35 percent, with 195,987 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 22.25 points, or 0.53 percent, on volume of 27,172 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)