U.S. stock index futures edge lower, focus on data

LONDON Thu Jan 3, 2013 9:39am GMT

LONDON Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker Wall Street open on Thursday, with investors seen taking profits after strong gains the previous day on a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.

* At 0925 GMT, futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 were 0.1 to 0.3 percent lower.

* U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp has posted a better-than-expected 9 percent rise in December sales at stores open at least a year, mainly helped by an additional sales day in the reporting period.

* At 1330 GMT, the Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended Dec. 29. In the previous week, there were 350,000 new filings.

* Gap Inc will buy women's fashion boutique Intermix Inc for $130 million to enter the luxury clothes market, the Wall Street Journal reported.

* Automatic Data Processing (ADP) releases its employment report at 1315 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect 133,000 jobs were created in December, versus 118,000 new jobs in the previous month.

* On the earnings front, Family Dollar Stores is scheduled to posts fiscal first-quarter results. The discount chain has more than 7,500 stores in 45 states.

* At 1200 GMT, the Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly mortgage market index for the weeks ended Dec. 21 and Dec. 28. The index read 817.0 and the refinancing index was 4,519.1 in the week ended Dec. 14.

* Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc releases its report on job cuts for December at 1230 GMT. It reported 57,081 layoffs in the prior month.

* The Institute for Supply Management-New York releases December index of regional business activity at 1445 GMT. In November, the index read 561.1.

* Growth in China's increasingly important services sector accelerated in December at its fastest pace in four months, adding to signs of a modest year-end revival in the world's second-largest economy.

* European shares rose 0.2 percent on Thursday, with Next among the top risers after the British retailer nudged up its full-year profit forecast.

* On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 308.41 points, or 2.35 percent, to 13,412.55 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 36.23 points, or 2.54 percent, to finish at 1,462.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 92.75 points, or 3.07 percent, to end at 3,112.26. (Reporting by Atul Prakash/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)

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