* CPI, Empire State data on tap
* Goldman, JPMorgan must fix flaws in payout determination
* Futures: Dow off 7 pts, S&P off 0.2 pt, Nasdaq up 2.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 15 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Friday ahead of a flurry of economic data,
with the S&P within 2 points of an all-time closing high.
Due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) are the February consumer
price index and the Empire State Manufacturing survey for March.
Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.5 percent rise in
CPI, against an unchanged reading in January. Excluding volatile
food and energy items, CPI is seen up 0.2 percent compared with
a 0.3 percent rise in January. The Empire State survey is
expected to show a reading of 10 for March compared with 10.4 in
Encouraging labor market data helped the Dow Jones
Industrial Average extend its winning streak to 10 days
on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P index finished just
shy of its all-time closing high of 1,565.15.
"To the extent we have seen a pretty steady stream of
better-than-expected economic data, you would be hard pressed to
find anything that comes up (today) that could be a negative
catalyst," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital
Markets in New York.
"With the path of least resistance having been found to the
upside, I would suspect that we would continue this rally at
least for one more day, barring any surprise on the economic
Improving economic data and expectations that the Federal
Reserve will continue its easy monetary policy have helped boost
the Dow by nearly 11 percent and the S&P by 9.6 percent this
year so far, with no major pullbacks.
S&P 500 futures shed 0.2 point and were slightly
below 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 dipped
7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2.5 points.
The Federal Reserve told Goldman Sachs Group Inc and
JPMorgan Chase & Co that they must fix flaws in how they
determine capital payouts to shareholders, but still approved
their plans for share buybacks and dividends.
A Senate report also alleged JPMorgan had ignored risks,
misled investors, fought with regulators and tried to work
around rules as it dealt with mushrooming losses in a
JPMorgan shares dipped 1.9 percent to $50.05 in
light premarket trading. Rival Bank of America rose 4.5
percent to $12.66 before the opening bell.
Ulta Salon slumped 11.7 percent to $78 in premarket
trading after the beauty products retailer forecast
first-quarter profit below Wall Street estimates, despite strong
Industrial production and capacity utilization data for
February are due at 9:15 a.m. (1315 GMT). Economists surveyed by
Reuters expect a 0.4 percent rise in production and a reading of
79.3 percent for capacity utilization.
Later at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary March consumer
sentiment index will be released. A reading of 78.0 is expected
compared with 77.6 in the final February report.
European shares were little changed, holding near recent
highs, thanks to central bank stimulus and an improving U.S.
economy on what could be a choppy trading day due to a big
Asian shares rebounded from three days of losses on Friday
as new U.S. data suggested a steady recovery in the world's
largest economy, bolstering investors' risk appetite.