US STOCKS-Futures climb as investors await ECB, data

* ECB President Draghi to speak before market open

* Crude oil jumps, building on Wednesday gain

* F5 Networks down in premarket after results, outlook

* Futures up: Dow 44 pts, S&P 5.5 pts, Nasdaq 6.25 pts (Updates trading, adds earnings and National City news)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Dow Futures gained slightly as investors awaited confirmation that the European Central Bank would announce new economic stimulus measures at a meeting on Thursday.

The ECB is widely expected to unveil a large bond-buying program, which is designed to combat the risk of deflation and a weakening euro zone economy. A source told Reuters Wednesday the Executive Board had proposed that the bank buys 50 billion euros ($ 58 billion) in bonds per month from March.

Equities rose on that report, with many U.S. stocks standing to benefit from accommodative programs in Europe, one of the United States’ key trading partners.

ECB President Mario Draghi will speak to the media at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), and if the details of the plan are perceived as inadequate to return inflation to target, that could spur market losses, especially with the benchmark S&P 500 within 3 percent of its record closing high.

In corporate earnings news, Verizon Communications reported revenue growth of 6.8 percent, though shares fell 1 percent to $ 47.75 in premarket trading. Travelers Cos Inc rose 0.5 percent to $ 105.50 after reporting a rise in net profit.

American Express Co late Wednesday reported revenue growth of 6.6 percent, though the credit card company also said it would cut more than 4,000 jobs this year as expenses and provisions for bad loans rose. Shares dipped 1.7 percent to $ 86.20 in light premarket trading.

F5 Networks Inc slumped 15 percent to $ 107.50 in premarket trading after the network equipment maker reported revenue that missed expectations for the first time in eight quarters. It also forecast current-quarter revenue and profit below market estimates.

City National Corp rose in premarket trading after the Royal Bank of Canada said it would buy the company in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $ 5.4 billion.

EBay Inc rose 3 percent to $ 55 before the opening bell, a day after it said it was exploring a sale or public offering of its enterprise unit, and announced an agreement with activist investor Carl Icahn that will give investors a greater say in its PayPal payments unit once it is spun off.

U.S. crude futures rose 1.6 percent to $ 48.56 per barrel, the third time the commodity has advanced more than 1.5 percent in the past four sessions. The recent trend could indicate that crude prices have found a floor after dropping by more than half since June.

Investors were looking ahead to jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m., which is expected to show a drop by 16,000 to 300,000 in the latest week.

Futures snapshot at 7:39 a.m.:

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.5 points, or 0.27 percent, with 102,362 contracts changing hands.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.15 percent, in volume of 19,739 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were up 44 points, or 0.25 percent, with 14,643 contracts changing hands.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Dow Futures

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