U.S. stock index futures signal lower start

LONDON Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:04am EST

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LONDON Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Thursday, with the S&P 500 index poised to extend losses after its biggest daily fall in three months in the previous session.

* Futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 fell 0.3-0.4 percent at 0941 GMT.

* European markets also traded lower after U.S. Federal Reserve minutes suggested the central bank may decide earlier than previously expected to stop printing the money that has helped drive the recent rally in equities.

* The Labor Department's weekly jobless claims, expected to show a jump to 355,000 from 341,000 the prior week, open a day of data releases at 1330 GMT. The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index is expected to have edged up 0.1 percent month on month in January.

* The flash reading of the U.S. flash Markit Manufacturing PMI for February is forecast at 55.5 versus 55.8 in the final January report. It will be published at 1358 GMT on Reuters.

* January existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors, due at 1500 GMT, are expected to show a slight decline to 4.90 millions from 4.94 millions, but the pace will likely hold at a robust level that will draw down inventories and help spur construction.

* Also at 1500 GMT, January's leading economic indicators. is forecast to show a 0.3 percent rise compared with a 0.5 percent rise in the prior month, while the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's February business activity survey is seen at 1.0 versus -5.8 in January.

* The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart is expected to post quarterly earnings per share of $1.57, up from $1.44 one year earlier, and the report will shed light on whether initiatives such as expanding and extending the firm's holiday layaway program paid off.

* PC maker Hewlett-Packard and Chesapeake Energy , the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas, also report quarterly results.

* International Business Machines, the technology services company, unveiled its expanded mobile strategy on Thursday in an effort to gain an advantage over rivals amid a proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets.

* A lawyer for Macy's Inc told a judge on Wednesday that rival J.C. Penney Co Inc and Martha Stewart schemed to develop a partnership that ran afoul of Macy's contract with the home goods doyenne.

* Citigroup Inc Chairman Michael O'Neill is not eager to explore a breakup of the third-largest U.S. bank, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

* A senior Boeing Co executive will meet with the head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Friday and present a series of measures aimed at preventing the battery failures that grounded its 787 Dreamliner fleet for five weeks, according to a source familiar with the plans.

* The U.S. Justice Department is investigating JPMorgan Chase & Co over allegations that Bear Stearns provided misleading information about its mortgage products during the lead-up to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

* The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 108.13 points, or 0.77 percent, to 13,927.54 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 18.99 points, or 1.24 percent, to 1,511.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 49.19 points, or 1.53 percent, to end at 3,164.41.

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