US STOCKS-Futures little changed ahead of crucial jobs report

Last Updated: Fri, May 03, 2013 11:50 hrs

* U.S. April employment data to point to sluggish economy

* ISM non-manufacturing data and factory orders on tap

* S&P 500 index near 1,600 mark

* Futures: S&P off 0.9 pt, Dow off 2 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75 pt

NEW YORK, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday ahead of a closely watched jobs report which will provide a clearer picture of the state of the economy after weeks of disappointing data.

* The closely watched monthly nonfarm payrolls report due at 8:30 a. m. EDT (1230 GMT) is expected to show employment growth likely picked up in April, but probably not by enough to counter other signs that suggest the economy has lost a step in recent weeks.

* Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased by 145,000 jobs, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after braking to a nine-month low of 88,000 in March. Taken together, the job creation pace over the past two months would still be far below the average of 200,000 for the first two months of this year.

* In other macroeconomic news, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing sector data will be released along with the Commerce Department's factory orders report for March at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

* S&P 500 futures fell 0.9 point and were in line with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 2 points while Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.75 point.

* On Thursday, Wall Street rallied after data showing U.S. weekly jobless claims dropped to a five-year low. Also helping, the European Central Bank met expectations with a cut to its benchmark interest rate.

* The move follows Wednesday's Federal Reserve statement in which the U.S. central bank said it would continue its bond buying scheme to keep interest rates low and spur growth, and would step up purchases if needed.

* LinkedIn Corp shares were likely to come under pressure after the social network late Thursday reported disappointing revenue forecasts, suggesting that a revamped mobile app and other new products designed to keep smartphone users engaged will not deliver on advertising growth as quickly as anticipated. The stock was off about 10 percent in premarket trade.

* The S&P ended at a record level on Thursday after hitting a record high intraday level of 1,598.58. About 74 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed higher while 73 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares closed up.

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