US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat after rising seven sessions in a row
* Jobless claims fall more than expected, but data skewed
* Export prices fall for 6th straight month
* Futures: Dow up 6 pts S&P off 0.1 pt, Nasdaq up 4.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a flat open on Thursday after a seven-day winning streak and a jobless claims report which provided little insight into the Federal Reserve's decisions about stimulus policy.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 292,000, the lowest level since 2006 and well below expectations of 330,000 new claims.
But the data was skewed due to technical problems in claims processing because two states were upgrading their computer systems and did not process all the claims they received during the week, muddying the last major reading on the labor market before the Federal Reserve's next meeting.
The distorted data has made it hard for investors to reach any conclusions about the labor market, said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"But the fact of the matter remains, the direction is obviously towards tapering, which is really a good thing," Charlop said. "That indicates that it worked. The question will be how measured will (the Fed) be and you have to think they are going to err on the side of caution. They will be very measured in their approach and won't do anything precipitous."
The S&P 500 has risen 3.4 percent over the past seven sessions, its longest winning streak in two months, as concerns about a Western military strike against Syria have faded and stocks have been buoyed by stronger-than-expected economic data from China.
The United States will insist Syria take rapid steps to show it is serious about abandoning its chemical arsenal, senior U.S. officials said, as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
U.S. export prices fell 0.5 percent in August, its sixth straight monthly decline, while import prices remained flat. Expectations were for export prices to rise 0.1 percent and import prices to climb 0.4 percent.
Employment is a key component of the central bank's planning for economic stimulus, known as quantitative easing.
The Fed will hold a two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday when a decision is expected about whether to make changes to its current bond purchases of $85 billion a month to boost the economy.
Economists at a majority of U.S. primary dealers expect the Fed to announce it will cut its bond purchases, according to a recent Reuters poll.
S&P 500 futures fell 0.1 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 gained 6 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.25 points.
Lululemon Athletica Inc slumped 6.7 percent to $64.40 before the opening bell after the yogawear retailer reported second-quarter results and trimmed its outlook.
NetSol Technologies Inc jumped 14.7 percent to $11.70 in premarket trading after the software maker reported fourth-quarter earnings.
S&P Dow Jones Indices announced late Wednesday that Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc and Ametek Inc will replace Advanced Micro Devices Inc and SAIC Inc in the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Sept. 20.
Vertex shares gained 2.7 percent to $82 in light premarket trade while Advanced Micro fell 2.1 percent to $3.74 before the opening bell.
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