* Initial claims, manufacturing data due
* China factory activity slows
* Futures off: Dow 24 pts, S&P 3.2 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 2 U.S. stock index futures dipped
on Thursday, after the S&P 500 wrapped up its best year since
1997 and ahead of data on manufacturing and the labor market.
The S&P 500 closed out 2013 with a spectacular 29.6
percent gain for the year - for its best annual performance
since 1997 - and adding $3.75 trillion in market value. The Dow
climbed 26.5 percent in its best year since 1995. The
Nasdaq jumped 38.3 percent, its best year since 2009.
"The market is probably headed for a slight pullback just
from an overbought, technical perspective," said Peter Cardillo,
chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
"Today's economic data will continue to show the economy
gaining momentum entering the new year which is obviously a
major positive for equities in 2014."
Investors will eye labor market data in the form of weekly
initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). The prior
week showed a total of 338,000 filings.
Also due are measures of manufacturing, with the final
Markit PMI reading for December due at 8:58 a.m. (1358 GMT) and
the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index due at
10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT). The ISM index is expected to show a
reading of 57 versus the prior reading of 57.3.
In China, official and private manufacturing surveys showed
factory activity in the world's second-largest economy slowed in
December, reinforcing views its economy moderated in the last
quarter of 2013.
Separately, Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing
Managers Index (PMI) rose to 52.7 in December from November's
51.6, its fastest rate since mid-2011 in December on brisk
business in Germany and Italy.
S&P 500 futures fell 3.2 points and were below 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 lost 24
points and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 9 points.
Major U.S. indexes were powered higher last year by the
Federal Reserve's massive stimulus and expectations for
accelerating economic growth going forward.
Volume is once again expected to be on the light side, as
many market participants remain out of the office due to the New
Year's holiday-interrupted week.
Apple Inc dipped 1 percent to $555.55 in premarket
trading. Wells Fargo cut its rating on the iPad maker to "market
perform" from "outperform."
European shares touched fresh 5-1/2 year highs before
slipping back, hit by weakness in utilities and miners after a
strong end to 2013 left the region's equities in overbought
Asian markets endured mixed fortunes in the wake of
disappointing data on Chinese manufacturing, while investors
showed renewed appetite for commodities as the new year got