Wall Street headed to higher open

By the Associated Press | December 29, 2011 | 7:21 AM EST

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2011 file photo, traders Gerard Farco, left, and Richard Cohen, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, as traders shied away from riskier assets as the year drew to a close, but hopes for a successful bond issue in Italy boosted shares in Europe.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is pointing higher before the bell, with investors awaiting the latest data on jobs and home sales.

Dow futures rose 0.17 percent to 12,102 and S&P 500 futures added 0.22 percent to 1,247.30. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.77 percent to 2,263.25.

The Labor Department releases weekly unemployment claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday. While economists expect a modest uptick, applications in the previous report fell to the lowest level since April, and a modest increase likely won't dampen that trend.

Also, the National Association of Realtors reports on the number of contracts for new homes signed in November. October contracts were at the highest level in a year, albeit a terrible one. And a report Tuesday showed that prices for homes fell in most major cities.