By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Aug 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday as oil prices steadied and investors awaited the weekly jobless claims data for hints of a strengthening labor market.
* Brent crude futures were up 0.18 percent at $44.12 after the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a gradual draw in stocks through the third quarter.
* Wall Street closed lower on Wednesday, albeit in low volume trading, as a 2 percent drop in oil prices pulled its major indexes away from record levels.
* The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits is expected to have slipped by 4,000 to 265,000 last week, continuing a trend of being below the 300,000 mark for the 75th consecutive week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).
* Shares of Alibaba jumped nearly 5 percent premarket after the Chinese e-commerce giant reported a 59 percent rise in quarterly revenue. Yahoo, which owns a stake in Alibaba, rose 2.4 percent.
* Kohl’s, which kicks off the two-day department stores earnings period, rose 3.8 percent to $39.50 after its second-quarter revenue beat estimates. Shares of Macy’s, which is to report at 8:00 a.m. ET, rose 1.5 percent, while Nordstrom, whose earnings are due after markets close, was slightly higher.
* Better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and a set of strong economic data have pushed the S&P 500 to a series of record intraday highs since July.
* No Federal Reserve official is expected to speak this week, but investors are awaiting Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech at the Jackson Hole conference on Aug. 26.
* Valeant fell nearly 9 percent in heavy trading after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. federal prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation on the drugmaker.
* Shake Shack dropped 7 percent to $37.99 after the company’s quarterly comparable-sales growth slowed more than expected.
Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 54 points, or 0.29 percent, with 14,739 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.25 points, or 0.24 percent, with 101,603 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 13.25 points, or 0.28 percent, on volume of 12,540 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)