US STOCKS-Futures flat in wake of Nasdaq outage

Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:54am EDT

* New home sales data due

* Germany confirms Q2 GDP growth

* Futures: Dow off 8 pts, S&P off 0.2, Nasdaq up 2 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, a day after the Nasdaq stock exchange suffered a historic trading halt of roughly three hours as a result of technical problems.

Trading in thousands of U.S. stocks ground to a halt for much of Thursday after an unexplained technological problem shut down trading in Nasdaq securities, the latest prominent disruption to the operations of U.S. markets.

Even with the Nasdaq outage on Thursday, the S&P 500 managed to register its biggest percentage gain since Aug. 1, but was unable to close above its 50-day moving average for a fifth straight session. The mark, now at 1,658.87, has become a technical hurdle.

The benchmark S&P index is on pace for a slight advance for the week after two straight weekly losses, as investors exercise caution amid uncertainty over how soon the Fed will begin to wind down its $85 billion a month stimulus program.

"Investors continue to grapple with likely Fed tapering scenarios and the effects it could have on markets," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"From now until the next Fed meeting the market is going to struggle to find a positive theme and the likelihood we hear more bearish rhetoric increases with the Fed uncertainty."

The next Fed monetary policy meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17-18.

In Europe, Germany confirmed a 0.7 percent climb in its second quarter gross domestic product as broad-based domestic demand drove the strongest quarterly expansion the euro zone's largest economy in more than a year.

U.S. economic data expected on Friday includes new home sales for July at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 490,000 annualized units, compared with 497,000 in June.

S&P 500 futures shed 0.2 point and were roughly even with 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 fell 8 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2 points.

Pandora Media Inc dropped 8.3 percent to $19.91 in premarket trade after the Internet radio service said late Thursday that rising expenditures to acquire music and expand its sales force would push fiscal 2014 earnings below analyst expectations.

Exxon Mobil is selling over half of its 60 percent holding in Iraq's West Qurna-1 oilfield project to China's biggest energy firm PetroChina and Indonesia's Pertamina, Iraq's oil minister confirmed on Friday.

European bourses were little changed early, with British stocks outpacing the broader market after data showed the country's economy was growing more quickly than first thought.

Asian shares marked an upbeat end to a mostly grim week as economic data suggesting the global economy is improving took the edge off persistent fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve will start withdrawing stimulus next month.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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