US STOCKS-Futures advance ahead of payrolls data

Fri Dec 6, 2013 7:54am EST

* Payrolls data on tap

* J.C. Penney gets letter of inquiry from SEC

* Sears Holdings to spin off Lands' End business

* Futures up: Dow 51 pts, S&P 6.7 pts, Nasdaq 10.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track to halt a five-session losing streak, ahead of a key monthly payrolls report that may influence expectations for when the Federal Reserve will begin to wind down its stimulus.

The S&P 500 has dropped 1.2 percent over the past five sessions, the longest losing streak for the benchmark index since late September. A gain of nearly seven percent over the prior eight weeks had increased expectations the Fed may accelerate the timetable to trim its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases encouraged profit taking.

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.

"You have that many days down, it's not surprising you will get a bit of a snapback that would be expected today," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co in New York.

"Given the timing of this report and the bets that are being placed on the December versus January versus March (Fed) meeting, it has taken on a great deal of importance for a lot of traders today."

The November employment report is due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 180,000 jobs were created in November compared with 204,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is seen at 7.2 percent versus a 7.3 rate in October.

Also due at 8:30 a.m. is personal income and spending data for October. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.3 percent rise in income and a 0.2 percent increase in spending.

Later in the session at 9:55 a.m. (1455 GMT), investors will eye the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release December preliminary consumer sentiment index. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 76.0 compared with 75.1 in the final November report.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.7 points and were 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 gained 51 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.5 points.

J.C. Penney Co Inc fell 3.8 percent to $8.51 in premarket trade after the department store chain said it received a letter of inquiry from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking an explanation on the company's financial position.

Struggling U.S. retailer Sears Holdings Corp, led by hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, said it would spin off its Lands' End clothing business.

A rally in Swiss food firm Nestle helped European stocks snap their longest losing streak in six months on Friday, although the market's rise was capped by caution ahead of the release of key U.S. jobs data later in the day. Asian shares were little changed.

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