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Stock futures flat ahead of jobless claims

By Reuters
Thursday, August 25, 2011 8:21 EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock futures were little changed on Thursday as investors found little reason to buy after three days of gains on the S&P 500 and ahead of weekly data on jobless claims.

Nasdaq futures were pressured as Apple Inc fell 2.7 percent to $366.15 in premarket trading. Co-founder Steve Jobs has resigned as chief executive of the iPhone and iPad maker, which briefly became the largest S&P 500 component by market capitalization last month.

Jobs, who has fought and survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer, said he could no longer perform the duties of the job. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook takes over as CEO.

“The resignation won’t impact the dynamics of the company, but it will have an impact on the investor psyche when it comes to the stock,” said Rick Fier, vice president at Conifer Securities in New York, which has about $7 billion in assets under administration. “It becomes a ‘show me’ stock now, though the decline today creates a good entry point for buying.”

Jobless claims, set for release at 8:30 a.m. EDT, were seen edging lower to 405,000 from 408,000 in the previous week. The data will be one of the last before a keenly awaited speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday.

Many investors hope the Fed chief will offers hints of new stimulus to aid the struggling economy, and some have said recent discouraging data increased the odds of such a plan. However, more gradual measures are considered the most likely outcome of the speech during the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Bernanke is a wild card, and you get the feeling no matter what he says, it will be a disappointment,” Fier said. “People don’t want to make bets one way or another ahead of the speech, especially not after all the volatility we’ve had.”

S&P 500 futures rose 2.6 points but were 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 added 22 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 6 points.

Wall Street has been marked by steep volatility in recent weeks on concerns about the global economy and sovereign debt woes in Europe. The CBOE Volatility index <.VIX> is up 42 percent so far in August.

Banks have born the brunt of the volatility, and the sector is likely to remain in focus on Thursday. Bank of America Corp rose 2.7 percent to $7.18 premarket, extending a rally from the previous session. The stock remains 28 percent lower for the month and hit a 2-1/2-year low earlier this week.

Both discount chain Big Lots Inc’s and Hormel Foods Corp reported quarterly profits that beat estimates and raised their full-year outlooks.

AT&T Inc said late Wednesday the Federal Communications Commission wants more information about its acquisition of Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile regarding its commitment to expand high-speed wireless services.

U.S. stocks rallied for a second day Wednesday as investors bought beaten-down financial shares and unloaded gold.

(Editing by Jeff Benkoe)

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Reuters
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