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US futures spike as Brexit vote begins

Leave vote? Banks ready but will be 'messy': Dick Kovacevich

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open Thursday as traders eyed the release of several pieces of data and kept a close eye on the U.K., where Britons have begun voting on whether to remain in or leave the European Union.

Dow futures rose more than 150 points, while S&P and Nasdaq futures gained 20 points and 48 points, respectively.

Opinion polls taken before the vote indicated the outcome is too close to forecast, although two polls published late on Wednesday suggested a swing towards "Remain".

Much will depend on turnout, with younger Britons seen as more supportive of the EU than their elders but less likely to vote.

Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT and will close at 2100, with results expected to be announced by the 382 individual local counting areas between around 0100 and 0300 on Friday.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the vote under pressure from the anti-EU wing of his Conservative Party and the surging UK Independence Party (UKIP), hoping to end decades of debate over Britain's ties with Europe.

On the data front, initial claims fell to 259,000.

New home sales and leading indicators set to come out at 10:00 a.m. Polls in the U.K. will remain open until 10:00 p.m. BST tonight.

The pan European Stoxx 600 Index was up 1.6 percent on Thursday.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 1.07 percent higher on Thursday while in China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.46 percent lower.

In oil markets, Brent crude traded at $50.66 a barrel, up 1.5 percent, while U.S. crude was at around $49.84, up 1.4 percent.

On the earnings front Accenture and BlackBerry are among companies set to report before the bell. Sonic and Synnex are set to report after the bell.

—Reuters contributed to this report.