September 7, 2017 / 2:06 PM / in 2 months

US STOCKS-Wall St opens little changed; Hurricane Irma in focus

* U.S. jobless claims to more than two-year high after Harvey

* MasterCard biggest boost on S&P after raising revenue forecast

* GoPro jumps on Q3 forecast

* Indexes up: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.09 pct, Nasdaq 0.05 pct (Updates to open)

By Sruthi Shankar

Sept 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened flat on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept its monetary policy unchanged, while investors kept an eye on Hurricane Irma, which is on track to hit Florida by the weekend.

The ECB also confirmed that asset purchases would continue at 60 billion euros per month at least until December, and said it could even expand or extend the bond buys, defying some expectations for policymakers to drop a reference to bigger bond purchases.

Investors were also tracking the path of Hurricane Irma, which has killed eight people on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

Irma will become the second major hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in as many weeks after Hurricane Harvey, which claimed about 60 lives and caused property damage estimated as high as $180 billion in Texas and Louisiana.

“As the hurricane moves, investors are looking for a better grip on the damage that can be done. There are far-reaching implications now that we have back-to-back ones,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director of Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Harvey also boosted U.S. jobless claims to more than two-year high.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits soared by 62,000 to 298,000 for the week ended Sept. 2, a Labor Department report showed. Economists had expected a rise to 241,000, according to a Reuters poll.

At 9:39 a.m. ET (1339 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 24.93 points, or 0.11 percent, at 21,832.57 and the S&P 500 was up 2.26 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,467.8.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 3.49 points, or 0.05 percent, at 6,396.81.

Wall Street rebounded on Wednesday after President Donald Trump agreed to pass an extension of the U.S. debt limit until Dec. 15, potentially avoiding an unprecedented default on U.S. government debt.

“We have a confluence of variables coming in together, creating greater uncertainty and may lead to a choppy market,” Bakhos said.

Key Federal Reserve policymakers scheduled to speak on Thursday include Cleveland Fed head Loretta Mester, New York Fed chief William Dudley and their Kansas City counterpart Esther George.

Seven of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, with the telecommunication index’s 0.49 percent rise leading the advancers.

MasterCard rose 3.35 percent, providing the biggest boost to the S&P, after the payments processor forecast higher full-year revenue. Rival Visa was also up 1.3 percent.

GoPro jumped 13.48 percent after the action camera maker said it expected to be profitable on an adjusted basis in the third quarter.

RH surged more than 40 percent after the upscale furniture retailer raised its full-year earnings forecast.

FireEye rose 6.27 percent in after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to “overweight”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,507 to 964. On the Nasdaq, 1,147 issues rose and 1,140 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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