* 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 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)