Wall Street To Open Flat After Claims Data; ISM On Tap

Source: thewillnigeria.com

stocks were poised to open little changed on Thursday, after the S&P 500 set a record for a second day and data showed jobless claims rose more than expected in the latest week.

Initial weekly claims for state unemployment benefits increased 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, above the 317,000 forecast.

Claims for the previous week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications than earlier reported and the underlying trend continued to point to some strength in the labor market.

The benchmark S&P index closed at a record 1,890.
90 on Wednesday, as signs of steady private-sector hiring suggested the economy was building momentum after a winter-related pullback.

Investors were looking for improvement in economic data after some lackluster reports earlier in the year were attributed to an unusually harsh winter.

The trade gap widened 7.
7 percent to $42.
3 billion, the largest since September, as exports fell to their lowest in five months in a further sign that economic growth had slowed in the first quarter.

The Institute for Supply Management's March report on the services sector is due at 10:00 a.

(1400 GMT).
Expectations are for a reading of 53.
5 versus 51.
6 in the prior month.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.
25 point and were roughly even with 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 gained 7 points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.

5 points.
The S&P 500 will consist of 501 stocks beginning Thursday, as Google Inc's (GOOGL.

O) dividend will result in both Class A and Class C shares being included on the index.

Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.
O) said late Wednesday a trial of its hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, sold under the brand name Sovaldi in the United States, showed the drug was safe and effective in treating Japanese patients infected with a common form of the virus.

Its shares gained 1.
3 percent to $74.
89 before the opening bell.
Vivus Inc (VVUS.
O) fell 5.
8 percent to $5.
82 in premarket trading after Piper Jaffray cut its rating on the stock to "underweight" from "neutral.

" The European Central Bank kept interest rates steady on Thursday despite a drop in inflation to its lowest in more than four years, counting on the euro zone recovery to gain strength unaided.