US STOCKS-Futures higher but investors remain cautious
* Futures up: Dow 64 pts, S&P 8 pts, Nasdaq 17 pts
By Tanya Agrawal
Sept 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday but investors remained wary of taking big positions a day before the release of the monthly jobs report, which may be a critical factor in the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision.
* The Fed has said it will raise rates when it sees sustained economic recovery. But while the labor market has strengthened, inflation remains below the Fed's 2 percent target.
* Weekly jobs data, scheduled to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) on Thursday, is expected to show that jobless claims increased by 4,000 to 275,000 last week.
* Near-zero rates allowed the stock market stage a spectacular bull-run since the financial crisis.
* Some investors believe that the bout of recent market volatility caused by concerns about China's slowing economy might force the Fed to hold back on a rate hike until the end of the year. The Fed next meets on Sept. 16-17.
* U.S. investors have endured over two weeks of unusually volatile trade that left the S&P 500 with its biggest monthly drop in three years in August.
* In other data to be released on Thursday, trade deficit is expected to have narrowed in July to $42.4 billion from $43.8 billion in June. Continuación...