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Futures higher as oil rises; Fed speakers eyed

U.S. stock index futures were higher Thursday morning, helped by gains in oil prices as a huge wildfire near Canada's oil sands and escalating tensions in Libya raised concerns of a near-term supply shortage.

Crude oil futures were up more than 4 percent near $45.70 a barrel, while brent traded more than 3.5 percent higher near $46.30 a barrel as of 8:35 a.m. ET.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims rose to 274,000. Earlier, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported layoffs by U.S.-based...