* Weekly jobless claims rise more than expected
* July trade deficit falls to lowest level in five months
* ECB leaves interest rates unchanged
* Joy Global falls after slashing full-year forecast
* Futures up: Dow 143 pts, S&P 17 pts, Nasdaq 38 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
Sept 3 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Thursday as weekly jobs data indicated a strengthening labor market, a day ahead of the more critical monthly jobs report, which may feed into the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.
Friday’s monthly jobs data will be the last before the Fed meets on Sept. 16-17.
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.
New applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a strengthening labor market.
In other data, U.S. trade deficit fell in July to its lowest level in five months as exports rose, signaling strength in the economy amid concerns about a global slowdown.
“I think the market is trying to calm down a little bit with the fear factor reducing somewhat and the data points to a growing U.S. economy,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
“I think the Fed raising rates in September will be a good thing for the markets because it sends the signal that the U.S. economy is capable of standing on its own two feet.”
Adding to positive sentiment, the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged, holding them at record lows as it prints money to lift the economy and raise inflation.
Near-zero rates allowed the U.S. 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.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.75 points, or 0.86 percent, with 236,245 contracts traded at 8:37 a.m. ET (1237 GMT). Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 37.75 points, or 0.89 percent, on volume of 38,622 contracts. Dow e-minis were up 143 points, or 0.88 percent, with 31,282 contracts changing hands.
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.
Global markets got some respite on Thursday from the recent turbulence as Chinese markets remain shut on Thursday and Friday due to public holidays.
Joy Global shares were down 8.2 percent at $20.31 in premarket trading after the mining equipment maker reported a fall in quarterly profit and cut its full-year forecast.
Tesla was up 1.9 percent at $252.48 after the company said it would begin delivering its first luxury electric crossovers, the Model X Signature series, on Sept. 29.
Lannett jumped 16.6 percent to $57.70, a day after the company said it would buy Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals, a U.S. unit of Belgian drugmaker UCB, for $1.23 billion. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)