(In second-last paragraph on Kroger, removes incorrect
reference to negative impact of weather)
* Factory orders, durable goods data due
* Staples, Costco shares down after results; Kroger up
* Futures up: Dow 25 pts, S&P 3 pts, Nasdaq 3 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 6 U.S. stocks were set to edge
higher at the open on Thursday following upbeat labor market
data, while developments in the Ukrainian crisis kept traders on
* Crimea's parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia and
its Moscow-backed government set a referendum for March 16 on
the decision, in a dramatic escalation of the crisis between
Russia and the West over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.
* Moscow stocks fell 2.2 percent and the ruble
weakened 0.7 percent versus the U.S. dollar after the Crimean
vote. A U.S.-traded Russian ETF fell 2.4 percent in
light premarket trading.
* Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment insurance fell
to 323,000, the lowest in three months, a sign of strength in a
labor market that has been hobbled by severe weather. Sales and
orders for long-lasting items are due at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 3 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 rose 25
points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3 points.
* Costco shares fell 2.7 percent in premarket
trading after the warehouse club operator's quarterly profit
fell 15 percent, missing analysts' estimates.
* Shares of Staples dropped 12.7 percent in
premarket trading after the largest U.S. office supplies
retailer forecast a fall in sales and said it would close up to
225 stores in North America by 2015.
* Kroger Co, the biggest U.S. supermarket operator,
reported a drop in quarterly profit. Still, its shares rose 3
percent in premarket trading.
* On Wednesday, major U.S. equity indexes were little
changed, with the S&P 500 down just 0.1 point from its record
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)