* Weekly jobless claims fall to 266,000 from 269,000
* Department store stocks rise on Kohl‘s, Macy’s results
* Alibaba jumps as revenue soars
* Futures up: Dow 54 pts, S&P 4 pts, Nasdaq 10.75 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Aug 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Thursday as strong labor market data and upbeat corporate earnings reports buoyed investor sentiment about U.S. economic growth.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits slipped by 3,000 last week to 266,000 from the week earlier, continuing a trend of being below the 300,000 mark for the 75th consecutive week.
The data follows a set of robust labor market reports including last week’s monthly payrolls numbers.
Kohl’s kicked off the two-day earnings run of department store chains. The company’s shares rose 9.5 percent to $41.65 premarket after its quarterly profit beat estimates.
Macy’s shares soared 11 percent after the department store operator reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly comparable store sales and said it would close 100 stores.
Nordstrom rose 5.6 percent in the run-up to the results after market closes, while J.C. Penney, which reports on Friday, was up 5 percent.
Alibaba rose 4.8 percent after the Chinese e-commerce giant posted a 59 percent jump in quarterly revenue. Yahoo, which owns a stake in Alibaba, rose 3.4 percent.
“It’s certainly hard to fight the recent trend, which has been a better appetite for risk and I don’t see anything to upset things,” said Mark Heppenstall, CIO of Penn Mutual Asset Management. “It seems stocks are a better long-term investment at this point.”
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.
However, a 2 percent drop in oil prices on Wednesday pulled Wall Street away from record levels. U.S. crude was hovering near the $40 mark in choppy trading, causing some nervousness among investors on Thursday.
Dow e-minis were up 54 points, or 0.29 percent at 8:26 a.m. ET (1226 GMT), with 14,739 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.18 percent, with 133,784 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10.75 points, or 0.22 percent, on volume of 15,121 contracts.18,134
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 6 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 $38 after the company’s quarterly comparable-sales growth slowed more than expected. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)