Stock futures flat ahead of data, trading may be volatile

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Published November 01, 2012

| Reuters

Stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors looked ahead to data that could give a clue into the strength of the economy a day before the crucial payroll report.

Markets will still be dealing with the aftermath of a massive storm in the U.S. northeast, which forced a historic two-day market closure. Trading could be volatile with many market participants unable to reach their offices or working from home with persisting power outages and limited mass transit.

Those who are able to trade will find no shortage of news. Weekly jobless claims are on tap for release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), with monthly reads on construction spending, manufacturing and consumer confidence on tap for release at 10 a.m.

Claims are seen rising 1,000 to 370,000 in the latest week, while confidence rises to 72.5 from 70.3 and a read on manufacturing, both for October, is seen edging down to 51.2 from 51.5. Construction spending for the month of September is seen rising 0.6 percent.

In addition, the ADP National Employment report, the release of which was delayed by a day because of the storm, is due at 8:15, and is seen slowing jobs growth in October versus September.

More earnings are due, including Exxon Mobil Corp , Kellogg , Starbucks and Cigna to report. Pfizer Inc , which delayed its results because of the market closure, is also filing Thursday.

S&P 500 futures fell 0.8 point and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures slid 12 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.25 points.

Tech shares will be in focus after the Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firm New Mountain Capital was nearing a deal to buy JDA Software Group for about $1.9 billion. The paper cited people familiar with the matter.

Overseas markets were higher, with Europe boosted by strong results from such companies as Royal Dutch Shell and Chinese shares posting their strongest daily gains in more than three week on bullish data.

U.S. shares of Sony Corp edged lower in premarket trading after the company posted a small profit in its latest quarter, though it affirmed its full-year view.

The U.S. stock market slowly returned to life on Wednesday after two days in the dark, the market's first weather-related two-day closure since the late 19th century. The Dow and the S&P 500 closed little changed while the Nasdaq edged lower in a session with slightly less than average volume.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica Editing by Grant McCool)

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