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US STOCKS-Futures flat after record close, jobless claims on tap

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Thu, May 09, 2013 11:40 hrs

* Dow, S&P come off records after five days of gains

* Jobless claims on tap, seen rising from last week

* Groupon revenue growth faster than expected

* Dow flat, S&P down 2 pts, Nasdaq down 4 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday after the S&P 500 closed at a record high for a fifth consecutive session a day earlier, and ahead of the latest data on the labor market.

Equity markets have surged since last week's stronger-than-expected payroll report suggested that fears of slowing growth may be overdone. The S&P 500 has risen 3.2 percent over the past five sessions, while the Dow has also set records.

Jobless claims are seen rising to 335,000 in the latest week, up from 324,000. A discouraging read on the labor market could spark a decline, with many analysts anticipating at least a short-term pullback and amid a dearth of trading catalysts this week.

"The jobs data really dispelled a lot of worries about a slowdown, but we could still move on the claims data if it surprises," said Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The market's uptrend has been boosted by strong corporate earnings and an accommodative monetary environment from the Federal Reserve, which analysts say makes stocks cheaper than other asset classes on a valuation basis. Investors have used any market declines in 2013 as a buying opportunity.

"We've gotten somewhat overextended, so we could see a pause around these levels," said Saut. "Still, we have support around 1,610 (on the S&P) and a lot of pressure to buy on dips, so any pullback should be minor."

S&P 500 futures dipped 2 points and were slightly 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 were flat and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4 points.

The S&P 500 has climbed 14.5 percent so far this year, while the Dow has advanced 15.3 percent and the Nasdaq has gained 13 percent. Still, the market remains below overbought territory, with the relative strength index on the S&P 500 slightly below 70.

While moves have been slight this week - the S&P rose just 0.5 percent on its strongest day - that the three major U.S. stock indexes have ended sessions higher than where they began in an indication that positive momentum will continue. Trading volumes have been below average, however, which could indicate a lack of conviction.

News Corp reported earnings late Wednesday that beat expectations while revenue rose 14 percent. Rupert Murdoch's media company also said it was on track to split off its slow-growing publishing business by the end of June.

Groupon Inc posted revenue growth of 7.5 percent in the first quarter, more than analysts had expected. Shares jumped 11 percent to $6.20 in premarket trading, though they are down more than 8 percent this month.

Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc soared 29 percent to $23 in premarket trading after web publication Tech Crunch reported that Microsoft Corp had offered to buy the digital assets of Nook Media for $1 billion, citing internal documents.

With about 440 S&P 500 components having reported, earnings have largely been better than expected this quarter, with the majority of companies surpassing estimates. Still, revenue has been weak.



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