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US STOCKS-Futures little changed before data as S&P nears record
March 15, 2013 / 12:10 PM / 5 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures little changed before data as S&P nears record

* CPI, Empire State data on tap

* Goldman, JPMorgan must fix flaws in payout determination

* Futures: Dow off 7 pts, S&P off 0.2 pt, Nasdaq up 2.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday ahead of a flurry of economic data, with the S&P within 2 points of an all-time closing high.

Due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) are the February consumer price index and the Empire State Manufacturing survey for March.

Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.5 percent rise in CPI, against an unchanged reading in January. Excluding volatile food and energy items, CPI is seen up 0.2 percent compared with a 0.3 percent rise in January. The Empire State survey is expected to show a reading of 10 for March compared with 10.4 in February.

Encouraging labor market data helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average extend its winning streak to 10 days on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P index finished just shy of its all-time closing high of 1,565.15.

“To the extent we have seen a pretty steady stream of better-than-expected economic data, you would be hard pressed to find anything that comes up (today) that could be a negative catalyst,” said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

“With the path of least resistance having been found to the upside, I would suspect that we would continue this rally at least for one more day, barring any surprise on the economic data stream.”

Improving economic data and expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue its easy monetary policy have helped boost the Dow by nearly 11 percent and the S&P by 9.6 percent this year so far, with no major pullbacks.

S&P 500 futures shed 0.2 point and were slightly 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 dipped 7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2.5 points.

The Federal Reserve told Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co that they must fix flaws in how they determine capital payouts to shareholders, but still approved their plans for share buybacks and dividends.

A Senate report also alleged JPMorgan had ignored risks, misled investors, fought with regulators and tried to work around rules as it dealt with mushrooming losses in a derivatives portfolio.

JPMorgan shares dipped 1.9 percent to $50.05 in light premarket trading. Rival Bank of America rose 4.5 percent to $12.66 before the opening bell.

Ulta Salon slumped 11.7 percent to $78 in premarket trading after the beauty products retailer forecast first-quarter profit below Wall Street estimates, despite strong results.

Industrial production and capacity utilization data for February are due at 9:15 a.m. (1315 GMT). Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a 0.4 percent rise in production and a reading of 79.3 percent for capacity utilization.

Later at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary March consumer sentiment index will be released. A reading of 78.0 is expected compared with 77.6 in the final February report.

European shares were little changed, holding near recent highs, thanks to central bank stimulus and an improving U.S. economy on what could be a choppy trading day due to a big options expiry.

Asian shares rebounded from three days of losses on Friday as new U.S. data suggested a steady recovery in the world’s largest economy, bolstering investors’ risk appetite.

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