U.S. stock futures climb as S&P 500 approaches record high

U.S. stock-index futures climbed, indicating the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will continue its advance toward a record high, as jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week.

LinkedIn Corp. and eBay Inc. added at least 1.7% after analyst upgrades. Amazon.com Inc. fell 2.4% as JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the shares. E*Trade Financial Corp. lost 6.8% after Citadel LLC said it’s selling the rest of its equity stake.

S&P 500 futures expiring in June rose 0.2% to 1,552.9 at 9:15 a.m. in New York. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13 points, or 0.1%, to 14,411 today.

“It’s a little bit more fuel on the fire,” Jeffrey Davis, chief investment officer at Lee Munder Capital Group, said in a phone interview. The Boston-based firm oversees $5 billion. “It’s been a long time since you’ve seen momentum both on the market and technical front being supported by economic fundamentals. In spite of the fact the market’s not as cheap as it once was, it’s looking like the rally should continue.”

The S&P 500 is about 11 points away from its record closing level of 1,565.15 set in October 2007. The gauge has more than doubled from its bottom in 2009, fueled by corporate earnings that topped estimates and monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The Dow has set record closing highs for seven straight days.

Jobless Claims

First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, the fewest since mid-January, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 350,000. The four-week average declined to a five- year low.

A separate report showed wholesale prices in the U.S. climbed in February for a second month, reflecting a jump in energy costs that are now dissipating.

In Europe, stocks advanced to a 4 1/2-year high before the region’s leaders begin a two-day Brussels summit. Euro-area finance ministers meet separately tomorrow to discuss a bailout for Cyprus.

LinkedIn added 2.4% to $183.49 as Goldman Sachs raised its price target to $220 from $157. EBay, operator of the world’s largest online marketplace, climbed 1.7% to $51.87. Evercore raised its rating on the company to overweight from equalweight.

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