* 153,000 jobs added in private sector vs est. 170,000 in
* Department stores drop on Macy's, Kohl's forecast cut
* Futures down: Dow 15 pts, S&P 3.5 pts, Nasdaq 7.75 pts
(Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Jan 5 U.S. stocks looked set for their first
lower open of the year on Thursday as investors assessed
economic data and the Federal Reserve's thoughts on
President-elect Donald Trump's policies.
Almost every Fed policymaker said Trump's promises of tax
cuts and infrastructure spending could stoke higher inflation
and require faster interest rate hikes, the minutes of the Fed's
December meeting showed on Wednesday.
Adding to the slightly downbeat sentiment, a report showed
the U.S. private sector added 153,000 jobs in December, fewer
than economists' expectation of 170,000.
The report sets a precedent to Friday's nonfarm payrolls
data that includes hiring in both private and public sectors.
"Overall it looks like investors will be in a wait-and-see
mode ahead of the Labor Department report tomorrow," said Aaron
Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.
U.S. stocks rallied for nearly two months since Trump's
victory, taking the Dow tantalizingly close to the historic
20,000 mark. However, some analysts warned the market was poised
for a potential correction.
"There is a growing gap between expectations for stimulus
measures versus what likely will be the reality, so we might get
some buyer's remorse when the market realizes that all these
changes will not happen as quickly as they expect," Clark said.
Dow e-minis were down 15 points, or 0.08 percent,
with 19,119 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 3.5 points, or 0.15
percent, with 121,398 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.16
percent, on volume of 15,692 contracts.
Department store stocks took a beating in premarket trading.
Macy's dropped 10.2 percent and Kohl's 14 percent
after both cut profit forecasts due to weak holiday sales.
Nordstrom and J.C. Penney lost about 5 percent
Alexion Pharma rose 5.4 percent to $133.91 after
the drugmaker said it did not see a need to restate its
previously issued results, following an investigation related to
sales practices of its blood disorder drug Soliris.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by