* S&P 500 inches towards all-time intraday high
* Data on U.S. private employment, services sector on tap
* Vodafone ADRs fall as Verizon rules out takeover
* Futures up: Dow 16 pts, S&P 2.3 pts, Nasdaq 4.25 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 3 U.S. stock index futures rose
on Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 even closer to its all-time
intraday high as investors awaited the latest round of economic
* The S&P has been within striking distance of its record
level of 1,576.09 for the past several sessions, edging within
three points on Tuesday before pulling back. While the index did
end at a new closing high, the fact that stocks pared gains late
in the session gave investors a reason to question the strength
of the recent rally.
* Moves may be slight until the release of the closely
watched nonfarm payrolls report on Friday as there are few major
catalysts before then. The S&P is up less than 0.1 percent so
far this week.
* Nonetheless, economic data will be scoured for signs on
whether the economy continues to steadily improve. The March
read for the Institute for Supply Management's services index,
due at 10 a.m., is seen coming in at 55.8, down from 56.0 in the
* The ADP national employment report is scheduled for
release at 8:15 (1215 GMT) and is seen showing 200,000 private
sector jobs were added in March, slightly more than the previous
month. If the ADP report is strong, it may raise expectations
for the jobs report on Friday.
* While data has largely been positive, helping to fuel
strong gains in the first quarter, there have been some
disappointments that have investors cautious. The ISM
manufacturing index on Monday came in below expectations.
* S&P 500 futures rose 2.3 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 added 16
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.25 points.
* The S&P 500 is up more than 10 percent so far this year,
gains that took it above its 2007 closing high last Thursday,
while the Dow first broke above its 2007 record on March 5.
* In company news, Verizon Communications Inc ruled
out a full takeover of Vodafone , turning the
focus yet again to whether the two telecom giants can do a deal
over their Verizon Wireless joint venture.
* U.S.-listed shares of Vodafone fell 3.6 percent to $28.36
in premarket trading.
* Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc is emerging as the
lead contender in an auction for Life Technologies Corp
, a genetic testing maker with a market value of more
than $11 billion, three people familiar with the matter said
* Issues in the euro zone will continue to be in focus a day
after Cyprus concluded a bailout deal. The plan, which still
requires ratification, would mean the country receives a 10
billion euro loan and that it has until 2018 to carry out
measures to shore up its finances. The country's finance
minister resigned after concluding the deal.
* While investors have largely used any market decline as a
buying opportunity, the situation in Cyprus has been a major
source of market uncertainty in recent weeks.
* U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, lifted by healthcare stocks
after a government decision on payment rates. Strong factory
orders data also added to the positive tone.