LONDON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures pointed to a
weaker Wall Street open on Thursday, with investors seen taking
profits after strong gains the previous day on a deal to avert
the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.
* At 0925 GMT, futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones
and the Nasdaq 100 were 0.1 to 0.3 percent lower.
* U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp has posted a
better-than-expected 9 percent rise in December sales at stores
open at least a year, mainly helped by an additional sales day
in the reporting period.
* At 1330 GMT, the Labor Department releases first-time
claims for jobless benefits for the week ended Dec. 29. In the
previous week, there were 350,000 new filings.
* Gap Inc will buy women's fashion boutique Intermix
Inc for $130 million to enter the luxury clothes market, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
* Automatic Data Processing (ADP) releases its employment
report at 1315 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect
133,000 jobs were created in December, versus 118,000 new jobs
in the previous month.
* On the earnings front, Family Dollar Stores is
scheduled to posts fiscal first-quarter results. The discount
chain has more than 7,500 stores in 45 states.
* At 1200 GMT, the Mortgage Bankers Association releases its
weekly mortgage market index for the weeks ended Dec. 21 and
Dec. 28. The index read 817.0 and the refinancing index was
4,519.1 in the week ended Dec. 14.
* Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc releases its report on
job cuts for December at 1230 GMT. It reported 57,081 layoffs in
the prior month.
* The Institute for Supply Management-New York releases
December index of regional business activity at 1445 GMT. In
November, the index read 561.1.
* Growth in China's increasingly important services sector
accelerated in December at its fastest pace in four months,
adding to signs of a modest year-end revival in the world's
* European shares rose 0.2 percent on Thursday,
with Next among the top risers after the British
retailer nudged up its full-year profit forecast.
* On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average
jumped 308.41 points, or 2.35 percent, to 13,412.55 at the
close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 36.23
points, or 2.54 percent, to finish at 1,462.42. The Nasdaq
Composite Index climbed 92.75 points, or 3.07 percent,
to end at 3,112.26.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG
Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)