* Goods and services exports at highest in more than 2-1/2 yrs
* Constellation Brands up after strong results
* Futures higher: Dow 20 pts, S&P 3 pts , Nasdaq 21.75 pts (Adds analyst comments, updates prices)
By Gayathree Ganesan
Oct 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher on Thursday after data showed the U.S. trade deficit narrowed and the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday the trade gap declined 2.7 percent to $42.4 billion, suggesting that trade could help soften the blow on the economy from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 for the week ended Sept. 30, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The weekly data is a precursor to the more comprehensive monthly jobs report, which is due on Friday.
Markets have been on a rally this week, with the three major indexes touching record-highs for the third straight day on Wednesday.
Global stocks, however, came off all-time highs on Thursday as minutes from the European Central Bank’s last meeting showed policymakers were concerned about the euro’s rapid rise.
Investors are also gearing up for the upcoming third-quarter corporate earnings.
Third-quarters earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 5.5 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data. That would be down from double-digit growth in the first two quarters, but many strategists are optimistic results will be better than expected.
At 8:37 a.m. ET (1237 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 20 points, or 0.09 percent, with 10,461 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.12 percent, with 90,799 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 21.75 points, or 0.36 percent, on volume of 20,188 contracts.
Shares of Constellation Brands were up 4.5 percent premarket after the brewer beat Wall Street’s profit estimates for the ninth straight quarter.
Collegium Pharmaceutical was up 7 percent after health insurer Cigna Corp said it would start covering the drugmaker’s pain drug. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)