* Jobless claims, ADP employment report on tap
* Fed to release minutes from FOMC Dec meeting
* Costco December same-store sales up 9 pct
* Futures off: S&P 4 pts, Dow 20 pts, Nasdaq 4.75 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged
lower on Thursday, as investors locked in gains following a
rally on Wednesday, which was spurred by a deal by U.S.
lawmakers to avert a "fiscal cliff" of austerity measures that
had been due to kick in this year.
Wall Street began the new year Wednesday with a rally and
their best performance in more than a year, sparked by a
last-minute deal in Washington to avert a fiscal cliff of
automatic massive tax hikes and spending cuts that, in the
worst-case scenario, would have hurt the nation's economic
"We are looking at a lower open which is normal after a
surge like yesterday. I don't think the rally will be cut
short," considering the euphoria in the market, said Peter
Cardillo, chief market analyst for Rockwell Global Capital in
"What happens in the next few days in the market will set
the stage for the remainder of the year."
At 8:30 a.m. EST (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.
Just ahead of that, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) releases
its employment report at 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT). Economists in
a Reuters survey expect 133,000 jobs were created in December,
against 118,000 new jobs in the previous month.
The minutes of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting last
month will be released at 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). The minutes
will give details on the discussions of the Federal Open Market
Committee's Dec. 11-12 meeting.
S&P 500 futures fell 4 points 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 lost 20
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4.75 points.
U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp reported 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. Costco shares were flat
in premarket trading.
Gap Inc will buy women's fashion boutique Intermix
Inc for $130 million to enter the luxury clothes market, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
Family Dollar Stores Inc reported a
lower-than-expected quarterly profit as its emphasis on selling
more everyday items like cigarettes and soft drinks put pressure
on margins. The stock fell 4.9 percent to $60.90
in premarket trading.
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 advancers after the British retailer
nudged up its full-year profit forecast.