U.S. stock index futures point to flat-to-lower start
LONDON Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat-to-lower open on Wall Street on Thursday.
* Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were down 0.1 percent, while contracts for the Nasdaq 100 were flat at 1001 GMT.
* Japan's Nikkei average dropped on Thursday in active trade after the central bank's third dose of monetary stimulus disappointed the market and triggered profit-taking, although the index managed to end above 10,000.
* European shares were flat as new signs of friction in U.S. budget talks stopped investors from buying on multi-month highs on key regional indexes.
* Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives may vote on an alternative tax bill that House Speaker John Boehner said would extend low tax rates, except on income of $1 million and above. The White House said President Barack Obama would veto the proposal, designed to avert Jan. 1 tax hikes.
* The U.S. Commerce Department releases its third and final estimate gross domestic product estimate at 1330 GMT. The pace of growth is likely to be revised up to 2.8 percent from 2.7 percent, reflecting a smaller trade deficit, but the composition of growth will probably continue to point to a slowdown in activity this quarter.
* The Labor Department issues first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended Dec. 15 at the same time. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 357,000 new filings compared with 343,000 in the prior week.
* The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank publishes December business activity survey at 1500, forecast to come in at -3.0 versus -10.7 in November.
* The Conference Board's November leading economic indicators, also due at 1500, was forecast to show a 0.2 percent drop compared with a 0.2 percent increase in October.
* IntercontinentalExchange Inc is in talks to buy NYSE Euronext, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, according to a source familiar with the situation on Wednesday, in a multibillion dollar deal that could help the commodities exchange take on arch rival CME Group Inc.
* Google Inc agreed to sell set-top TV box maker Motorola Home to Arris Group Inc for $2.35 billion in cash and stock, the companies said on Wednesday.
* BlackBerry maker RIM is on track to report its third straight quarterly loss on Thursday as it struggles to sell its ageing lineup in a market crowded with Apple iPhones and a range of devices using Google's Android software.
* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected Apple Inc's 'pinch-to-zoom' patent in a preliminary ruling that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd argues supports its request for a new trial in the patent war against its rival.
* Top sports clothes maker Nike reports second-quarter results, expected to show earnings per share of $1 dollar, steady year on year, and will talk about holiday demand and trends.
* The U.S. Treasury plans to sell its stake in General Motors Co over the coming year, all but assuring a multibillion-dollar loss in a move that will end the automaker's "Government Motors" era.
* General Motors Corp and PSA Peugeot Citroen have dropped plans to jointly develop a large car and will base their alliance on three smaller vehicle projects, the automakers said on Thursday.
* Food safety authorities have shut down two chicken farms in eastern China, including one that supplied Yum Brands Inc's KFC and McDonald's Corp, the official Shanghai Daily reported on Thursday.
* Stephen Gillett, the head of Best Buy Co Inc's digital business, is leaving the world's largest consumer electronics chain to become chief operating officer of data protection software company Symantec Corp.
* Activist investor William Ackman confirmed on Wednesday that he is betting against the stock of Herbalife Ltd in a move that sent shares of the weight management product company reeling and sparked a caustic rebuke from its chief executive officer.
* Embattled healthcare technology firm Allscripts named its board member and former chief operating officer of rival Cerner Corp Paul Black as its CEO, replacing Glen Tullman, and said it ended a review of strategic alternatives.
* U.S. mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have suffered more than $3 billion in losses due to manipulation of the benchmark interest rate known as Libor, according to an internal memo by a federal watchdog.
* The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 98.99 points, or 0.74 percent, to 13,251.97 on Wednesday. The S&P 500 lost 10.98 points, or 0.76 percent, to 1,435.81. The Nasdaq Composite fell 10.17 points, or 0.33 percent, to 3,044.36.
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