Futures Edge Higher After Employment Data

U.S. stock index futures edged higher Thursday following a pair of positive employment data and as the East Coast continued to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 in the previous week, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters expected claims to rise to 370,000. Meanwhile, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. did not turn in data due to hurricane Sandy. As a result, the Labor Department estimated results for the state and for the nation's capital.

The private sector added a better-than-expected 158,000 jobs in October, according to the first report employment data firm ADP released since it changed its methodology. Economists had forecast October's report would show a gain of 135,000 jobs, according to a Reuters poll.

Investors will be looking ahead to the nonfarm payrolls data, which will be reported on Friday, as scheduled. The monthly government jobs report, which is expected to show 125,000 jobs added in October, will be the last before the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Meanwhile, non-farm productivity increased 1.9 percent in the third-quarter, according to the Labor Department, edging past estimates for a 1.6 percent gain.

Among earnings, Pfizer posted a profit that matched analysts' forecasts, but revenue fell short following the loss of patent protection on its blockbuster Lipitor cholesterol fighter.

Fellow Dow component ExxonMobil reported quarterly results that topped analysts' predictions though profit dropped from the previous year.

AIG, Starbucks and Chesapeake are among companies slated to post earnings after the closing bell.

Monthly auto sales are also scheduled for release throughout the session.

Ford announced that Alan Mullaly will remain as president and CEO through "at least 2014," while Americas President Mark Fields will be promoted to COO, a step that prepares him to eventually take over as CEO.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) index is due at 10 am. Economists polled by Reuters predict manufacturing activity increased for the second consecutive month in October, after shrinking over the summer, although the pace of growth is expected to have slowed from 52.5 to 51.2.

The Conference Board will release its consumer confidence index at 10 am. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast a jump to 72.5 in October from 70.3 in the prior month.

And construction spending data for September will also be released at 10 am. Construction spending for the month of September is seen rising 0.6 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

Shares in Asia were boosted by Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data from China that suggested the slowdown in the world's second largest economy is bottoming out.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

On Tap This Week:

THURSDAY: Consumer confidence, ISM mfg index, construction spending, auto sales, chain-store sales, Facebook's "gifts" event, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Rosengren speaks
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, factory orders, Fed's Williams speaks, Wynn shareholders meeting

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