US STOCKS-Futures hold steady after jobs, inflation data

U.S. stock index futures remained little changed on Thursday after data showed first-time applications for jobless insurance ticked lower in the latest week, and U.S. consumer prices were unexpectedly unchanged in February.

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S&P 500 futures SPc2 rose 0.7 point and were slightly above 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 DJc2 gained 17 points and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc2 added 3 points.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000 in the week to March 13, the Labor Department said, while analysts polled by Reuters had expected claims to slip to 455,000. [Read the full article]

Following on a surprise dip in producer prices yesterday, the prices people are paying at the cash register fell in February, on average, it turns out this morning, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index was unchanged in February from January, the Bureau reported, whereas economists had been expecting a 0.1% increase across the board. With food prices rising & slightly and energy prices dropping. Energy dropped half a percent, food rose 0.1%, and all other items rose 0.1%. Specifically, used cars rose 0.7%, medical care rose 0.4%, while apparel was off 0.7%. Somewhat less concerting, initial claims for jobless insurance for the week ending last Friday fell by 5,000, to 457,000, though that was slightly higher than the 455,000 observers had been expecting, the Bureau reported this morning. The dollar strengthening this morning, rising to $1.3672 per Euro from last night closing cross of $1.3741. [Read the full article]

U.S. stocks opened little changed on Thursday, a day after the Dow pushed to a 17-month high, as gains in materials shares were offset by declines in financial companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 15.57 points, or 0.15 percent, to 10,749.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX edged up 0.14 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,166.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC dropped 0.63 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,388.46. [Read the full article]

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