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U.S. stocks were headed for a higher open Thursday, fueled by the lowest weekly jobless claims figure since May 2008.
U.S. stocks ended slightly higher Wednesday, as nervous investors focused on oil prices, which rose above $102 a barrel on renewed concerns about supply and the Libyan conflict.
Economy: The Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims totaled 368,000 in the week ended Feb. 26 -- the lowest weekly figure since May 31, 2008.
Analysts surveyed expected the number of people filing for unemployment benefits to rise to 400,000, up from the revised tally of 388,000 the previous week.
The report came a day before the big labor report, the monthly employment figures from the government. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney expect that 192,000 jobs were created in February, with the unemployment rate rising to 9.1% from 9% in January.
The Institute for Supply Management's service industries index will be released after the opening bell. It's expected to fall to 59 from the January reading of 59.4, but that would still indicate expansion in the sector.
Oil for April delivery slipped $1.01 to $101.22 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery fell $14.70 to $1,423 an ounce. On Wednesday gold hit an intraday all-time high of $1,441 an ounce, before settling at a fresh record of $1,437.70 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 3.53% from 3.46% late Friday.
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