* Initial claims, GDP data on tap
* China Mobile signs deal with Apple - report
* Aeropostale tumbles on forecast
* Futures: Dow flat, S&P up 1.1 pt, Nasdaq up 6.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 5 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Thursday, ahead of data on the labor market
and economic growth that may help investors assess whether the
Federal Reserve may accelerate its timetable to wind down its
The S&P 500 has fallen for four straight sessions,
shedding 0.8 percent, its longest losing streak since late
September as recent economic data has cast some uncertainty over
when the Federal Reserve will begin to trim its stimulus of $85
billion in monthly bond purchases.
Many market participants expect the Fed to announce a cut in
March. The Fed has said it would slow its stimulus program when
certain economic measures meet its targets, including a decline
in the U.S. unemployment rate.
"The only thing you get sanity from is individual companies
because if you are trying to make some kind of huge macro call
here and react, you are going to be really disappointed," said
Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital
Group in Pittsburgh.
"That being said, it is important to watch the data come
through but do you have to react? I don't think so."
Economic data expected at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) includes
weekly initial jobless claims and a second estimate of third
quarter gross domestic product.
Economists surveyed by Reuters expect claims to show a total
of 325,000 new filings compared with 316,000 in the prior week
while GDP is expected to have grown an annualized 3.0 percent
compared with 2.8 percent in the first estimate.
S&P 500 futures gained 1.1 points and 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 were flat
and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.75 points.
Later in the session at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), October
factory orders data is expected. Economists surveyed by Reuters
expect a drop of 1.0 percent compared with a 1.7 percent rise in
China Mobile Ltd, the country's largest mobile
operator, has signed a long-awaited deal with Apple Inc
to offer iPhones on its network, the Wall Street Journal
reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous source familiar with
the matter. Apple shares gained 1.6 percent to $573.78 in
Aeropostale Inc slumped 7.1 percent to $8.70 before
the opening bell after the apparel retailer forecast a much
bigger-than-expected loss for the holiday shopping quarter.
Costco Wholesale Corp's November same-store sales
fell short of analysts' expectations, as lower gasoline prices
and weak foreign currencies dampened a five percent increase in
the company's monthly net sales. Its shares slipped 1.1 percent
to $121.65 in light premarket trade.
General Growth Properties Inc advanced 4.6 percent
to $21.22 in premarket trade. Standard and Poor's said the
company will replace Molex Inc in the S&P 500 after the
close of trading on Dec. 9.
Retailers and telecoms led European shares lower and Asian
markets were mostly down on concerns over the potential for an
early winding down of equity-friendly U.S. monetary stimulus.