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Wall Street set to open near records on upbeat data

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

U.S. stocks looked set to climb further on Thursday after a record day on Wednesday, as strong economic data added to the optimism about the U.S. economy.

Wall Street’s main indexes rallied on Wednesday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sailed past the 21,000 mark, boosted by President Donald Trump’s more measured tone in a speech to Congress and as bank stocks surged on increased possibility of an interest rate hike this month.

A report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed that the number of Americans who applied for jobless claims fell to a 44-year low last week, pointing to continued strength in the labor market.

The data supported a flurry of encouraging comments on the economy from Federal Reserve officials that has nudged the markets to price in higher chances of an interest rate hike in two weeks. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to speak on Friday.

Fed Board Governor Lael Brainard, who is typically dovish on rates, said on Wednesday that a move on rates could come “soon”.

“Even on the Federal Reserve Board, the last of the doves is finally acknowledging that if things seem strong enough we’ve got some cover here to move,” said Mike Bailey, president of FBB Capital Partners.

The odds for a move this month jumped to 74 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Before the influential New York Fed president William Dudley spoke on Tuesday, the chances were roughly 30 percent.

The dollar index .DXY was up on Thursday after gaining the most in nearly eight weeks a day earlier.

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 33 points, or 0.16 percent, at 8:31 a.m. ET (1331 GMT), with 26,591 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 153,230 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 5.75 points, or 0.11 percent, on volume of 21,406 contracts.

The trading debut of Snap Inc, the owner of popular messaging app Snapchat, is scheduled on the New York Stock Exchange under the (SNAP.N) ticker. Snap on Wednesday priced its initial public offering above its target range, raising $3.4 billion and giving the company a $24 billion valuation.

Oil, however, could dampen spirits as prices fell more than 1 percent following a report that showed U.S. crude oil stocks hit an all-time high. [O/R]

Among stocks, Kroger (KR.N) dropped 3.8 percent to $30.85 in premarket trading after the supermarket operator reported a surprise decline in holiday-quarter same-store sales.

JD.com (JD.O) rose 4.3 percent to $32 as the Chinese e-commerce company reported a 47 percent jump in fourth-quarter revenue.

Broadcom (AVGO.O) rose 5.05 percent to $226.01 after the chipmaker reported quarterly revenue above analysts’ expectations.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)