Company News

US STOCKS-Wall St set for flat open as choppy quarter ends

* 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)

March 31 (Reuters) - 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 financial system. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)