* Brent crude climbs over $63 a barrel
* Initial claims data on tap
* Oracle up in premarket after results
* Futures up: Dow 192 pts, S&P 23 pts, Nasdaq 57 pts (Adds premarket actives)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures surged on Thursday, putting the S&P 500 on track to extend gains from the prior session, as oil prices showed signs of stabilizing and ahead of data on the labor market.
* The benchmark S&P 500 index notched its best day since October 2013 after the Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy and said it would take a patient approach toward raising interest rates, while the energy sector jumped more than 4 percent.
* Oil prices rose, boosting a rebound off five-year lows, with Brent crude climbing as high as $63.70 and WTI crude up more than 2 percent. Exxon Mobil rose 1.8 percent to $90.60 and the Select Sector Energy ETF gained 2.2 percent to $78.81 in premarket trading.
* Investors will eye weekly initial jobless claims data due out at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) for signs of strengthen in the labor market. Expectations are for claims to have increased by 1,000 from the prior week to 295,000.
* Data expected later in the session includes the preliminary services sector Purchasing Managers Index from Markit at 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT). At 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s manufacturing survey and the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index are due.
* Oracle Corp advanced 4.6 percent to $43.07 before the opening bell after reporting quarterly results that topped Wall Street expectations.
* Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc said it will buy U.S. convenience store chain The Pantry Inc for $1.7 billion, including debt. Pantry shares gained 2.5 percent to $36.40 in premarket.
* Rita Aid shares surged 9.9 percent to $6.66 in premarket after the drugstore chain’s quarterly results topped expectations and it boosted its 2015 outlook. The stock was the most actively traded issue on the New York Stock Exchange in premarket with volume of over 2.7 million shares.
Futures snapshot at 8:03 a.m. EST (1303 GMT):
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 23 points, or 1.15 percent, with 284,177 contracts changing hands.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 57 points, or 1.39 percent, in volume of 6,497 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were up 192 points, or 1.12 percent, with 41,846 contracts changing hands. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)