US STOCKS-Futures little changed ahead of initial claims data

Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:36am EDT

* Initial claims, ISM services due

* ECB rate decision on tap

* Google dividend to take effect Thursday

* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 3.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday, after the S&P 500 set a record for a second straight day, ahead of data on the labor market and services sector.

* The benchmark S&P index closed at a record 1,890.90 on Wednesday, as signs of steady private-sector hiring suggested the economy was slowly building momentum after a winter-related pullback. Investors will look for signs of continuing improvement ahead of Friday's payrolls report.

* Weekly initial jobless claims data is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Analysts expect claims to rise to 317,000 against 311,000 in the prior week. International trade data is also due at 8:30 a.m.

* The Institute for Supply Management's March report on the services sector is due at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT). Expectations are for a reading of 53.5 versus 51.6 in the prior month. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 2 points and were 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 gained 22 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.75 points.

* The S&P 500 will consist of 501 stocks beginning Thursday, as Google Inc's dividend will result in both Class A and Class C shares being included on the index.

* Gilead Sciences Inc said late Wednesday a trial of its hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, sold under the brand name Sovaldi in the United States, showed the drug is safe and effective in treating Japanese patients infected with a common form of the virus.

* Vivus Inc fell 6 percent to $5.80 in premarket trading after Piper Jaffray cut its rating on the stock to "underweight" from "neutral."

* The European Central Bank looks set to keep interest rates steady and offer no new aid to the euro zone's fragile recovery despite a fall in inflation to its lowest in more than four years. The rate decision is due at 7:45 a.m. (1145 GMT) with a press conference at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT).

* Spanish shares outperformed flat European markets as strong services sector data boosted investor optimism about an economic recovery.

* Asian shares hovered near four-month highs as upbeat U.S. data underpinned risk appetite, while news China is taking steps to stimulate its economy spurred Tokyo's Nikkei to a three-week peak. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)