May 30, 2013 / 11:04 AM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat after selloff, ahead of data

* Jobless claims, preliminary Q1 GDP data on tap

* Strong growth may spur fears of Fed tapering

* Bond yields to stay in focus after recent spike

* Dow down 2 pts, S&P up 2.9 pts, Nasdaq up 2.5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors paused following a recent bout of volatility and ahead of key data on the economy.

* Shares tumbled on Wednesday as gains in U.S. Treasury bond yields hit their highest level in more than a year, pressuring stocks that pay high dividends.

* The spread between the S&P 500 dividend yield and the 10-year U.S. Treasury note’s yield is at its narrowest in about a year. The S&P 500 dividend yield was about 2.39 percent near Wednesday’s close.

* The rise in yields came on concerns that the Federal Reserve would curb its bond-buying program sooner than most people expected. However, shares advanced on Tuesday following reassurances from central banks abroad that their programs would not be curtailed.

* The Fed is expected to make decisions on its policy based on economic conditions, placing a higher premium on Thursday’s economic data. A preliminary read on GDP is seen showing expansion of 2.5 percent in the first quarter, even with the previous quarter.

* Separately, initial jobless claims are seen holding steady at 340,000 in the latest week. Both data points are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT), and while weak reads could raise fears about the pace of economic growth, strong data may be interpreted as hastening an end to the Fed’s stimulus.

* S&P 500 futures rose 2.9 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 fell 2 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.5 points.

* Loose monetary policies by central banks around the world have lifted stock markets, driving both the Dow and the S&P 500 to record highs this year. The S&P 500 is up 15.6 percent from its close at the end of 2012.

* Defensive stocks have been among the leaders this year as investors favored high-dividend stocks over fixed-income securities in a low interest-rate environment. While signs that the Fed may begin tapering its stimulus is expected to hit cyclical shares - groups tied to the pace of economic growth, like energy and financials - further rises in Treasury yields are expected to continue weighing on defensive names.

* In company news, Costco Wholesale Corp reported third-quarter earnings that beat expectations by a penny, though sales were below forecasts.

* Mining equipment maker Joy Global Inc reported a drop in second-quarter earnings and revenue as a fall in commodity prices pushed miners to cut capital spending.

* The Food and Drug Administration approved two new GlaxoSmithKline drugs for treating advanced melanoma.

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