NEW YORK -
U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may snap a four-day slide ahead of data on the labor market.
* The benchmark S&P index has shed 2 percent over the past four sessions, its biggest four-day drop since late July, amid concern about the impact of slowing world growth on corporate profits.
* The market continues to focus on weak global demand as S&P 500 companies' third-quarter earnings are expected to fall 2.9 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. It would be the first decline in three years.
* Investors will look to weekly initial jobless claims data at 8:30 a.m. EDT for any signs of improvement in the labor market after the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in the latest non-farm payrolls report last week. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 370,000 new filings compared with 367,000 in the prior week.
* Other data also due at 8:30 a.m. include import-export prices for September and August international trade. Analysts in a Reuters poll expect an August trade deficit of $44.0 billion versus a deficit of $42.0 billion in July while imports are expected to rise 0.7 percent and exports by 0.4 percent.
* S&P 500 futures rose 5.6 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 44 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 13.25 points.
* Sprint Nextel Corp
* Major retail stocks led European shares higher after three days of losses, although traders said a rating cut for Spain could peg back markets to the tight trading range seen in the last month. <.EU>
* Standard & Poor's cut Spain's sovereign credit rating on Wednesday to BBB-minus, just above junk territory, citing a deepening economic recession that is limiting the government's policy options to arrest the slide.
* Asian shares were lower as weak forecasts from U.S. corporate bellwethers underscored concern over global demand, particularly from China.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)