February 26, 2014 / 2:00 PM / in 4 years

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher, S&P 500 near record

* S&P 500 has been unable to close at a record this week

* Lowe’s rallies in premarket after results

* Jan new home sales data on tap, seen falling slightly

* Futures up: Dow 20 pts, S&P 2.3 pts, Nasdaq 5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 would again make a run at record levels that have been serving as resistance.

* While some positive results, including from Target Corp and Lowe’s Cos Inc, supported individual shares, broader indexes struggled to break out of their recent trading range.

* The S&P hit an all-time intraday high on Monday, before shares lost ground and the S&P was unable to end at a record close. On Tuesday, indexes fluctuated between gains and losses throughout the day, ultimately ending lower after the S&P failed to break above Monday’s record.

* The index is currently 0.7 percent below its all-time high, and advancing solidly beyond that may be difficult, given a dearth of positive catalysts. Recent economic data has come in below forecasts, and while many blame that on the impact of a harsh winter rather than worsening fundamentals, investors are looking for evidence the market’s valuation is justified.

* The CBOE Volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, has declined for four straight sessions, dropping 11.8 percent over that period to extremely low levels.

* Target shares rose 2 percent in premarket trading, even as it said net profit was almost halved in the holiday quarter due to a massive data breach and that costs relating to the event could hurt future profits.

* Lowe’s rose 3.6 percent to $49.85 in premarket trading after the home improvement retailer reported earnings and sales growth and an additional stock buyback program of $5 billion. The results come a day after peer Home Depot also posted strong earnings.

* S&P 500 futures rose 2.3 points and were above 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 added 20 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 5 points.

* Market moves may be slight until Thursday, when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addresses the Senate Banking Committee in a semiannual testimony about monetary policy. Her comments will be scoured for insight into the extent to which an unexpectedly cold winter has impacted economic activity, and for confirmation the Fed will maintain its stimulus-trimming schedule.

* Investors are looking ahead to the January reading on new home sales, due at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), which is expected to have dropped slightly from the prior month.

* Both Chesapeake Energy Corp and First Solar Inc fell in premarket trading after posting declines in earnings. First Solar fell 14 percent a day after the solar panel maker reported that its fourth-quarter net income fell 58 percent, while Chesapeake slipped 2.75 percent after it swung to a net loss on charges relating to employee termination costs.

* Dollar Tree Inc fell 4.3 percent to $50.40 before the bell after giving a full-year profit outlook.

* Anika Therapeutics Inc soared 38 percent to $47.56 in premarket trading a day after it said the Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug to treat pain and improve joint mobility in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, more than four years after it first filed for approval.

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