US STOCKS-Futures higher as oil prices gain
* Futures up: Dow 55 pts, S&P 7 pts, Nasdaq 15 pts
By Tanya Agrawal
May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday, after three straight days of losses, as oil prices rose for the first time this week and ahead of the monthly jobs data on Friday.
* Oil prices jumped over 2 percent as a huge wildfire near Canada's oil sands region and escalating tensions in Libya stoked concerns among investors of a near-term supply shortage.
* U.S. stocks finished lower on Wednesday, weighed down by tepid data on private sector jobs and a retreat in biotech shares.
* Investors are awaiting the monthly jobs data, which is expected to show that nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 202,000 in April after rising 215,000 in March. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 5 percent.
* A strengthening labor market is expected to influence the pace of future rate hikes, although traders are pricing in only one hike later this year.
* An accommodative Federal Reserve and a recovery in oil prices have helped U.S. stocks rally from sharp losses at the start of the year. However, the rally lost momentum in the past two weeks due to underwhelming quarterly earnings and mixed economic data.
* Data on Thursday is expected to show that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits probably rose by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 for the week ended April 30. The report is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT). Continuación...