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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Gain After Jobless Claims Decrease

U.S. stock-index futures advanced after jobless claims fell more than economists estimated, decreasing below 400,000 for the first time since April in a sign that the labor market may be improving.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in September climbed 0.2 percent to 1,301.2 at 8:33 a.m. in New York after declining earlier following lower-than-estimated earnings from Exxon Mobil Corp. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures increased 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,257.

Jobless claims fell by 24,000 to 398,000 in the week ended July 23, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a drop to 415,000. There were no special factors associated with the decrease other than the usual volatility that occurs each year in July, a Labor Department spokesman said.

The S&P 500 has retreated 3 percent over the past three days amid concern lawmakers will fail to agree on an increase in the U.S. debt ceiling.

Lawmakers are continuing to wrangle over raising the borrowing limit with less than a week before an Aug. 2 deadline. The House of Representatives is set to vote today on Republican John Boehner’s plan. The proposal faces unified opposition from Democrats in the Senate, who have a majority in the upper chamber.

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