* J.C. Penny jumps after Citi upgrade
* Myriad Genetics falls after court motion denied
* Futures: Dow off 8 pts, S&P off 1.25 pt, Nasdaq up 0.25 pt
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday after a slight decline in the prior session left the S&P 500 within striking distance of its recent record high and as tensions in Ukraine tempered investor appetite for risk-taking.
* Investors continued to show caution in light of events in Ukraine. A pro-Russian force opened fire in seizing a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on Monday and NATO announced reconnaissance flights along its eastern frontiers as confrontation around the Black Sea peninsula showed no sign of easing.
* On Tuesday, ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich insisted he remained Ukraine's legitimate president and commander-in-chief, saying he would return to Kiev and appealing to the armed forces to defy any "criminal orders" handed down by his foes.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 1.5 points and were about even with 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 shed 8 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.25 point.
* Economic data expected on Tuesday includes wholesale inventories for January at 10:00 a.m. EST (1400 GMT). Expectations are for a 0.4 percent rise in inventories against the prior increase of 0.3 percent.
* J.C. Penney Co Inc jumped 7.1 percent to $9.02 in premarket trading after Citigroup raised its rating on the stock to "buy" and boosted its price target to $11 per share.
* Myriad Genetics Inc lost 9.9 percent to $34 before the opening bell after the diagnostics company said a U.S. court denied a motion that would have stopped rival Ambry Genetics Corp from selling a similar version of Myriad's cancer test.
* La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co surged 58 percent to $17.22 in premarket after the company said its lead experimental drug to treat chronic kidney disease met the main goal of improving kidney function in a mid-stage study.
* European shares steadied Tuesday after a two-day slide, with the Ukraine crisis sapping appetite for risk.
* Asian markets were finding their feet after a rocky ride the previous session, though uncertainty about the true state of China's economy kept commodity prices restrained.
* The S&P 500 closed down 0.05 percent on Monday, held back by soft data from China and weakness in Boeing Co shares. The index is down less than 1 percent from both its intraday and closing record highs.