US STOCKS-Futures little changed with Dow, S&P at records

Last Updated: Mon, May 06, 2013 11:40 hrs

* Dow, S&P coming off all-time closing highs

* Investors looking for next market catalyst

* Oil rises modestly, Middle East supply in focus

* Futures: Dow down 1 pt, S&P down 0.2 pt, Nasdaq up 2 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday as investors paused following steep gains in the previous session that took the Dow and S&P 500 to new closing highs.

The S&P is up more than 13 percent so far this year, lifted by some strong corporate results and an accommodating monetary environment from the Federal Reserve. But with those factors largely priced into the market, many are looking for the next catalyst to take shares higher from these levels.

"There's such an absence of economic data and news that it looks like it is going to be a boring day, which is fine after Friday," said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York.

"We're flat right now, but markets in general want to go higher since central bank action is trumping everything."

Many analysts are calling for a correction, which equity markets have largely avoided so far this year as traders use any market weakness as an opportunity to add to positions.

A string of generally weak economic data has recently underlined concerns over the global growth outlook, though Friday's report on U.S. non-farm payrolls was stronger than expected and fueled the gains that took the indexes to record levels.

S&P 500 futures dipped 0.8 point and were slightly under 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 slid 1 point and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2 points.

Overseas, European shares dipped 0.2 percent as investors took profits following a rally in the previous week. Volumes were light as the UK stock market was closed for a holiday.

Crude oil rose 0.4 percent while Brent crude hit a one-month high as an Israeli air strike on a Syrian military facility refocused attention on Middle East supply risks.

"The strike has revived a lot of potential pressure, but right now it is a positive that Iran or other countries in the region didn't make a big stink about it," said Pursche. "Commodities seem to be back in a trading range."

The first-quarter earnings reporting season is largely winding down, but Tyson Foods, Frontier Communications and First Solar are all on tap to report results on Monday.

Of the 404 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 68.3 percent have beaten earnings expectations, but only 46.3 percent have reported revenue above expectations. Over the past four quarters, 67 percent of companies beat on earnings and 52 percent beat revenue estimates.

Warren Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway , said on CNBC the U.S. economy was gradually getting better, aided by improvements in sectors like homebuilding.

On Friday the S&P closed above 1,600 and the Dow briefly traded above 15,000 for the first time ever, with a number of bellwether companies hitting 52-week highs. For the week, the Dow rose 1.8 percent, the S&P gained 2 percent and the Nasdaq rose 3 percent in its biggest weekly climb since the first week of the year.

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