FILE PHOTO: A trader wears a mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the building prepares to close indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures climbed on Thursday, a day after Wall Street recorded its steepest fall in two weeks on intensifying coronavirus fears, with investors on edge ahead of another expected jump in weekly jobless claims.

Lifting the mood was a steep climb in oil prices on hopes that Russia and Saudi Arabia may end their price war. [O/R]

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits are likely to have shot up to a seasonally adjusted 3.5 million for the week ended March 28, racing ahead of the previous week’s record 3.3 million figure. Some estimates range as high as 5.25 million.

The Labor Department’s report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), will be closely watched as more than 80% of Americans remain under lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

The three main stock indexes tumbled 4% on Wednesday, with the Dow .DJI and S&P 500 .SPX extending declines from one of their worst quarters in more than a decade following President Donald Trump’s stark warning on the U.S. death toll.

At 05:35 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 399 points, or 1.92%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 43.75 points, or 1.79% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 121.75 points, or 1.64%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs (SPY.P) were up 1.39%.

Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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