* 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 territory.
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 under way.