* Jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week
* S&P 500 up 1 pct for year
* Futures up: Dow 8 pts, S&P 0.5 pts, Nasdaq flat
(Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
March 31 Wall Street was set to open little
changed on Thursday, the last day of a turbulent quarter for
financial markets as investors fled from risk amid concerns
about the global economy and a slide in oil prices.
Global stocks fell as investors closed off positions for the
quarter. Crude oil rose slightly, hovering near $40 a barrel.
Data on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims rose
unexpectedly to 276,000 last week, falling short of the 265,000
estimated. Claims still remain well below the 300,000 mark
denoting a healthy labor market.
The data comes a day ahead of the critical non-farm payrolls
report on Friday that will give investors a clearer reading on
the state of the economy.
"Today, we're just in a do-nothing mode and we will wait and
see what happens Friday," said Matthew Tuttle, chief executive,
Tuttle Tactical Management in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Tuttle said he expects trading to be muted as investors
brace for an increase in volatility on Friday after the release
of the jobs report.
"There's going to be a big move one way or the other (on
Friday), you don't know which way it's going to go and you don't
want to put on large bets right before that."
At 8:32 a.m. ET (1232 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 8
points, or 0.05 percent, with 26,827 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent, with
216,203 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis remained
unchanged, on volume of 21,292 contracts.
Investors' nerves were soothed this week by U.S. Federal
Reserve Chief Janet Yellen's comments that the central bank
should be cautious with raising interest rates.
Yellen's remarks helped quell speculation that the Fed could
be aggressive with its plan to raise rates and pushed stocks to
their highest this year. The S&P 500 is now up nearly 1 percent
in 2016 after being down as much as 10.5 percent in February.
Investors are also concerned about tepid corporate earnings
growth and will keep a close eye on the quarterly reports that
start rolling in next month.
New York Fed President William Dudley and Chicago Fed chief
Charles Evans are slated to speak at separate events on
Thursday. Evans, who has supported Yellen's position, said there
was a high hurdle to raising rates in April given low inflation.
Shares of Square Inc were down 2.1 percent at $14.70
premarket after BTIG cut its rating on the stock to "neutral".
AIG was up 1.3 percent at $55.22 after its Chief
Executive Peter Hancock said the company was open to applying
for the removal of its 'too big to fail' tag, a day after peer
Metlife was deemed not systemically important to the
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by