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U.S. futures rise ahead of jobs data

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose slightly on Thursday ahead of a critical job report that could feed into the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on when to increase interest rates.

* Non-farm payrolls are expected to have increased by 230,000 in June, with the unemployment rate declining to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent.

* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits is expected to have dropped a bit to a seasonally adjusted 270,000.

* The market was buoyed by stronger-than-expected private payrolls and construction spending data on Wednesday.

* The Labor Department’s closely watched report, normally issued on a Friday, will be released on Thursday at 8:30 a.m ET because of the Independence Day holiday.

* Should the monthly job data meet expectations, it will be the latest indication that the economy has rebounded from a first-quarter slump and could support a September interest rate increase by the Fed.

* European stock markets were in a limbo and the mood was one of caution with Greece just days away from a referendum that may decide its future in Europe and traders awaiting U.S. data.

* The Greek government aims to secure a deal with creditors on Monday, a day after the referendum in which Greeks will vote on whether to accept or reject a bailout offer made by lenders last week.

* HealthNet  shares rose 5.4 percent to $68.54 in premarket trading after Centene Corp  said would buy the healthcare management company for an enterprise value of $6.8 billion. Centene shares rose 1.4 percent.

* Insurer MBIA Inc  shares rose 4.6 percent to $6.15 after Puerto Rico’s PREPA avoided default by making a $415 million payment to creditors.

* Xoom Corp  shares rose 21.4 percent after PayPal, the electronic payments division of eBay , said it would buy the digital money transfer provider for about $890 million.

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