* CPI posts largest jump in almost 4 years
* Goldman, JPMorgan must fix flaws in payout determination
* Futures up: Dow 1 pts, S&P 1 pt, Nasdaq up 3.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 15 U.S. stocks were poised to
open little changed on Friday as investors grappled with a
flurry of economic data, with the S&P within striking distance
of an all-time closing high.
Data showed consumer prices increased 0.7 percent in
February, the largest increase in nearly four years, but not
enough to garner much attention from the Federal Reserve as much
of the increase was driven by a spike in gasoline prices.
In addition, New York Federal Reserve data showed the
manufacturing sector expanded for a second straight month in
March, although the 9.24 reading was down from 10.04 in February
and expectations for a reading of 10.
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.
Improving economic signs 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.
"If we do get a little bit of a retracement it's just a dip
and all these dips are being met by investors looking to buy any
kind of reversal they can get near," said Gordon Charlop,
managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"So at this point it looks like the S&P won't stop until it
breaks the high, and then some."
S&P 500 futures added 1 point and was roughly even
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 gained 1
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.75 points.
Market volatility may be heightened at the open and near the
close due to 'quadruple witching' - the quarterly settlement and
expiration of four different types of March equity futures and
options contracts. Expiration can lead to greater volume and
volatility as players adjust or exercise their derivative
Data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed investors
in U.S.-based funds poured $11.26 billion of new cash into stock
funds in the latest week, the most since late January.
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 1.6 percent to $50.17 in
premarket trading. Rival Bank of America rose 3.8
percent to $12.57 before the opening bell.
Ulta Salon slumped 14 percent to $76 in premarket
trading after the beauty products retailer forecast
first-quarter profit below Wall Street estimates, despite strong
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.