US STOCKS-Futures little changed before initial claims, GDP data

Thu Dec 5, 2013 8:10am EST

* Initial claims, GDP data on tap

* China Mobile signs deal with Apple - report

* Aeropostale tumbles on forecast

* Futures: Dow flat, S&P up 1.1 pt, Nasdaq up 6.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday, ahead of data on the labor market and economic growth that may help investors assess whether the Federal Reserve may accelerate its timetable to wind down its monetary stimulus.

The S&P 500 has fallen for four straight sessions, shedding 0.8 percent, its longest losing streak since late September as recent economic data has cast some uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will begin to trim its stimulus of $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.

Many market participants expect the Fed to announce a cut in March. The Fed has said it would slow its stimulus program when certain economic measures meet its targets, including a decline in the U.S. unemployment rate.

"The only thing you get sanity from is individual companies because if you are trying to make some kind of huge macro call here and react, you are going to be really disappointed," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"That being said, it is important to watch the data come through but do you have to react? I don't think so."

Economic data expected at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) includes weekly initial jobless claims and a second estimate of third quarter gross domestic product.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect claims to show a total of 325,000 new filings compared with 316,000 in the prior week while GDP is expected to have grown an annualized 3.0 percent compared with 2.8 percent in the first estimate.

S&P 500 futures gained 1.1 points and slightly above 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 were flat and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.75 points.

Later in the session at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), October factory orders data is expected. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a drop of 1.0 percent compared with a 1.7 percent rise in September.

China Mobile Ltd, the country's largest mobile operator, has signed a long-awaited deal with Apple Inc to offer iPhones on its network, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter. Apple shares gained 1.6 percent to $573.78 in premarket trading.

Aeropostale Inc slumped 7.1 percent to $8.70 before the opening bell after the apparel retailer forecast a much bigger-than-expected loss for the holiday shopping quarter.

Costco Wholesale Corp's November same-store sales fell short of analysts' expectations, as lower gasoline prices and weak foreign currencies dampened a five percent increase in the company's monthly net sales. Its shares slipped 1.1 percent to $121.65 in light premarket trade.

General Growth Properties Inc advanced 4.6 percent to $21.22 in premarket trade. Standard and Poor's said the company will replace Molex Inc in the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Dec. 9.

Retailers and telecoms led European shares lower and Asian markets were mostly down on concerns over the potential for an early winding down of equity-friendly U.S. monetary stimulus.

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