Futures rise on strong jobs, consumer numbers

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures rose Thursday on strong jobs numbers and consumer spending, a big factor in the sluggish economic growth seen during the first three months of the year.

Dow Jones industrial futures tacked on 61 points to 14,885. S&P futures added 8.5 points to 1604. Nasdaq futures rose 14.5 points to 2,897.50.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

And consumers spent more in May as their income increased at the fastest pace in three months.

That’s critical for any recovery as consumer spending drives 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The jobs picture must improve, however, and the U.S Federal Reserve has pegged its aggressive stimulus program to unemployment, saying in December that it would leave the short-term rate unchanged at least until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent. It’s now 7.6 percent.

Two major gravitational forces have pulled investors in different directions this year. Many are pouring money into the market as the economy recovers, seeing stock gains as imminent. At the same time, market investments are being driven by the belief that the economy has a long way to go, and that the Fed will continue a massive bond-buying program that has driven down interest rates and kept money flowing globally.

Pending home sales figures are also due Thursday.

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