US STOCKS-Futures rise as oil prices extend rally
* 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. Continuación...