By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a slightly higher open on Thursday, after four straight days of gains sent the S&P 500 to a fresh record high, as initial jobless claims data indicated strengthening of the labour market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000, slightly below the 314,000 forecast.
The benchmark S&P index is up 1.4 percent over the past four days and notched its biggest advance in nearly a month on Wednesday, after the Federal Reserve hinted at a slightly faster pace of interest-rate increases starting next year but suggested rates in the long run would be lower than it had indicated previously.
The gains pushed the S&P above its prior record high of 1,951.27 set on June 9.
Later in the session, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve will release its June manufacturing survey for the mid-Atlantic region at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Expectations call for a reading of 14 in the main business activity index against 15.4 in May.
Also due at 10 a.m. is the Leading Economic Index for May from the Conference Board. Forecasts are for an increase of 0.6 percent, up from the 0.4 percent in April.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 1.5 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a slightly higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 8 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 3.5 points.
U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry jumped 12.8 percent to $9.35 before the opening bell after the company posted a first-quarter loss that was smaller than expected.
Kroger Co, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by its acquisition of grocer Harris Teeter earlier this year. Shares of the biggest U.S. supermarket operator rose 5.4 percent to $49.80 in premarket trade.
Measurement Specialties Inc jumped 10.8 percent to $86.43 in premarket after the company agreed to be acquired by Swiss-based electronics company TE Connectivity for about $1.7 billion, including debt.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)