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US STOCKS-Futures little changed as Wall St set to pause after rally

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Wed, May 01, 2013 22:01 hrs

* Wall St investors set to take profits after S&P closes at record

* Fed's FOMC begins 2-day monetary policy meeting

* UBS posts strong first-quarter on trading income surge

* Futures: S&P down 1.9 pts, Dow falls 3 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75 pt

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday as investors awaited a batch of economic data for a confirmation that the recent rally that has taken the S&P 500 to an another record close is solid.

The Federal Open Market Committee also begins its two-day meeting on monetary policy, with results scheduled to be announced on Wednesday. A recent slew of weak U.S. growth data has raised expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its pace of bond buying at $85 billion a month.

"With earnings season coming to an end, the focus is now on what the next market driving theme is," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"The economic data, the comments from ECB and FOMC could all be the drivers, an additional confirmation to justify the levels we are at now. All of these factors come to play for us to break out to a whole new territory, above 1,600 (on the S&P 500)."

S&P 500 futures fell 1.9 points and were slightly below 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 fell 3 points while Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.75 point.

The S&P 500 index ended at an all-time high on Monday as growth-oriented stocks, including energy and technology, led the way to the index's sixth rise in the past seven sessions.

A positive finish to April would deliver a sixth straight month of gains. That would be the longest winning streak since September 2009 when the index rallied for seven straight months. The broad market index is up 1.6 percent for the month.

In macroeconomic news, the U.S. employment cost index is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) and the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index for February is due at 9 a.m. ET.

The 20-city Case Shiller Home Price Index is set for another jump in February, seen rising 9 percent year-on-year from 8.1 percent in January, giving the series its fastest pace of growth since May 2006, according to a Reuters survey of analysts.

The Chicago purchasing managers' index for April will be released at 9:45 a.m. ET and the Conference Board's April consumer confidence index is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Financial stocks were likely to be in focus after UBS beat expectations for first-quarter profit thanks to a surge in trading income from its investment bank and more fees from wealthy clients. [ID:nL6N0DH07H} Strong results from banks and expectations of more central bank stimulus took European shares to a 4-1/2 year high.

On the corporate earnings front, Pfizer Inc shares were down 3 percent in premarket trade after posting lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue. The largest U.S. drugmaker also trimmed its full-year profit outlook.

U.S. retailer Best Buy Co Inc retreated from its ill-fated European expansion by selling its stake in a joint venture to Carphone Warehouse Group for less than half what it paid five years ago. Best Buy shares rose more than 5 percent in premarket trade.




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