US STOCKS-Futures flat amid caution ahead of jobs report

Fri Jan 4, 2013 12:48pm GMT

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* US employers expected to have added 150,000 jobs in Dec

* Futures: S&P up 0.9 pt, Dow down 11 pts, Nasdaq up 3 pts

NEW YORK Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday amid caution ahead of a key jobs report and concern the U.S. Federal Reserve may end its asset-buying program.

* The employment reading, to be released by the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), is likely to point to modest economic growth despite uncertainty in recent months over a fiscal crisis that continues to dog the U.S. economy.

* U.S. employers likely stepped up hiring in December for the holidays, but the gain will probably not be enough to make inroads in the country's still-high unemployment rate.

* Payrolls outside the farming sector are expected to have grown by 150,000 last month, a modest increase from November's 146,000 job gain, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

* S&P 500 futures added 0.9 point and were in line with 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 lost 11 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 3 points.

* U.S. stocks dipped on Thursday as investors pulled back after a two-day rally on signs the Federal Reserve was concerned about its highly stimulative monetary policy.

* The Fed said last month it would keep interest rates near zero until unemployment fell to at least 6.5 percent, and as long as inflation does not rise above 2.5 percent.

* Walgreen is set to report December same-store sales, a day after several major U.S. retailers beat expectations of modest sales increases in December as shoppers wrapped up holiday buying.

* Mosaic Co reported that its quarterly operating profit fell 30 percent as international distributors delayed buying potash and phosphate to avert the price risk associated with the fertilizer producer's negotiations with China and India.

* Japan's Nikkei share average climbed nearly 3 percent to a 22-month high on its first trading day of 2013 on Friday, as a deal in Washington to avert fiscal disaster buoyed investor risk appetite and the weaker yen lifted exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp. Japan's markets were closed Thursday for a holiday.

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