* May retail sales rose 1.2 pct vs est 1.1 pct
* Import prices rise after 10 months of decline
* Weekly jobless claims up
* Box surges after raising forecast
* Futures up: Dow 21 pts, S&P 1.5 pts, Nasdaq 7.5 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
June 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Thursday as retail sales surged in May, the latest sign that a recovery in the U.S. economy was finally gathering steam.
U.S. shares jumped on Wednesday, helped by gains in technology and financial stocks and optimism that Greece may be closer to reaching a deal with creditors.
U.S. retail sales increased 1.2 percent in May, topping the 1.1 percent growth expected by economists, as households boosted purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods even as they paid a bit more for gasoline.
Other data showed that U.S. import prices got a boost in May after 10 straight months of declines, while weekly jobless claims rose slightly more than expected but remained in territory consistent with a strengthening labor market.
“The retail sales (data) is just another piece of the economic puzzle and one that investors have been waiting for,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
“The Fed will definitely get one rate hike under its belt this year, and another one next year.”
The market is bound to be volatile when the hike is eventually announced as one-third of the market participants have never seen a rate increase, Hogan said.
Investors have been perusing economic data closely for clues on the timing of a rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed has said it will raise rates only when it sees a rebound in the economy after growth came to a standstill in the first quarter.
Economists and top Wall Street banks expect the Fed to raise rates in September, which would be the central bank’s first hike in almost a decade and would finally mark a turn in the direction of the flow of easy money that has driven world stocks and bond prices to record highs in recent years.
The World Bank on Wednesday joined the International Monetary Fund in urging the U.S. Federal Reserve to hold off on a rate hike until next year to avoid worsening exchange rate volatility and crimping global growth.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.5 points, or 0.07 percent, with 207,086 contracts traded at 8:54 a.m. ET, while Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.5 points, or 0.17 percent, on volume of 26,157 contracts and Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.12 percent, with 24,102 contracts changing hands.
Box shares jumped 11.8 percent to $19.88 in premarket trading after the cloud storage provider raised its full-year forecast.
Citrix Systems rose 6.1 percent to $70 after shareholder Elliott Management said the software maker should sell some units, cut costs and buy back shares.
Krispy Kreme rose 7.4 percent to $18.68 after the doughnut chain raised the bottom end of its 2016 profit forecast. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)