* US employers expected to have added 150,000 jobs in Dec
* Unemployment rate seen holding steady at 7.7 percent
* Futures: S&P down 0.2 pt, Dow down 11 pts, Nasdaq up 3 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Jan 4 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Friday amid caution ahead of a key jobs report
and concern the U.S. Federal Reserve may end its stimulative
The employment reading, to be released by the Labor
Department at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), is likely to point to
modest economic growth despite uncertainty in recent months over
a fiscal crisis that continues to dog the U.S. economy.
U.S. employers likely stepped up hiring in December for the
holidays, but the gain will probably not be enough to make a
dent in the country's still-high unemployment rate.
Payrolls outside the farming sector are expected to have
grown by 150,000 last month, a modest increase from November's
146,000 job gain, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.
"We are currently seeing a carryover from yesterday's Fed
news. The bonds are getting hit pretty hard and commodities are
down a lot too. I'm surprised the futures aren't reacting much
but that is probably because investors are all awaiting the jobs
report," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis
"If we get a really good number for the jobs report, then we
might see some adverse reaction in the stocks as that might
raise the possibility of the Fed ending the stimulus."
S&P 500 futures fell 0.2 point and were in line 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 lost 11
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 3 points.
U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday as investors pulled back
after a two-day rally on signs the Federal Reserve was concerned
about its highly stimulative monetary policy. Minutes from the
Fed's December policy meeting, released Thursday, showed Fed
officials were increasingly worried about the risks of asset
purchases on financial markets, though they looked set to
continue with the open-ended stimulus program for now.
The Fed said last month it would keep interest rates near
zero until unemployment fell to at least 6.5 percent, and as
long as inflation does not rise above 2.5 percent.
Pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly and Co. said on
Friday it expects 2013 earnings to increase to $3.75 to $3.90
per share excluding items from $3.30 to $3.40 per share in 2012.
The stock was flat in premarket trading.
Walgreen is set to report December same-store sales,
a day after several major U.S. retailers beat expectations of
modest sales increases in December as shoppers wrapped up
Mosaic Co reported that its quarterly operating
profit fell 30 percent as international distributors delayed
buying potash and phosphate to avert the price risk associated
with the fertilizer producer's negotiations with China and
India. The stock was down 1.4 percent at $56 in
Japan's Nikkei share average climbed nearly 3 percent to a
22-month high on its first trading day of 2013 on Friday, as a
deal in Washington to avert fiscal disaster buoyed investor risk
appetite and the weaker yen lifted exporters such as Toyota
Motor Corp. Japan's markets were closed Thursday for a