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US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors eye Friday's jobs report
March 8, 2017 / 12:31 PM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors eye Friday's jobs report

* Futures down: Dow 13 pts, S&P 1.5 pts, Nasdaq 2.25 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors treaded carefully ahead of a crucial jobs report on Friday that could firm up the chances of an interest rate hike next week.

* Data on watch for Wednesday is a report on private sector hiring for February, due at 8:15 a.m. ET (1315 GMT). The report is seen as a precursor to the broader nonfarm payrolls data, which includes private and public sector jobs.

* Economists polled by Reuters estimate 190,000 jobs were added in the private sector last month, compared with 246,000 in January.

* Traders have priced in an all-but-certain quarter point rate increase during the Federal Reserve’s meeting on March 14-15, but investors are keen to know whether the central bank would increase the pace of rate hikes.

* Fed Chair Janet Yellen last week remarked that scaling back on monetary policy would likely not be as slow this year as they were in 2016 and 2015.

* Though the markets have been more resilient to the prospects of higher rates now than they were last year, the chatter has put the brakes on a rally that took off on President Donald Trump’s promise of tax reforms.

* The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked their first back-to-back losses in over one month on Tuesday.

* The dollar gathered strength on Wednesday, while gold - which tends to lose value as rate rise - was lower.

* Oil could keep the markets in the red, as prices dropped about 1 percent following a report that showed a large rise in U.S. crude inventories.

* Among stocks moving premarket were Urban Outfitters , which dropped 5.1 percent to $24.11 following a sales miss that led to William Blair to downgrade the stock and others to cut price targets.

* Geo Group fell 5.3 percent to $42.35 after the REIT priced an offering of six million shares at $41.75 per share, a 6.7 percent discount to its Tuesday close.

Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 13 points, or 0.06 percent, with 28,951 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.5 points, or 0.06 percent, with 132,727 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.04 percent, on volume of 24,951 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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