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US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open higher, S&P 500 eyes record
September 18, 2014 / 1:06 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open higher, S&P 500 eyes record

* Futures up: Dow 44 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 13 pts (Updates prices, adds comment)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Sept 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to rise at the open on Thursday, with the S&P 500 on track to test resistance at its record high a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve renewed its commitment to keeping interest rates low.

The Fed said Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting it would keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time,” language that was supportive of equities and other risky assets that had been expected by some to be dropped off its post-meeting statement.

The U.S. central bank also indicated it could raise borrowing costs faster than previously forecast when it starts moving, boosting the U.S. dollar.

The Dow industrials closed Wednesday at a record high with the S&P coming within a point of its intraday record.

“The Dow made an all-time high and then pulled back which is typical of the way the market has been making new records, and that’s likely to be the case with the S&P 500,” said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset Management in Boston.

“Today the S&P could make a nominal (intraday) new high, though I don’t think it is important that it closes at a record.”

Zaro said options expiration this week, as well as traders continuing to digest the Fed’s statement and press conference, would likely contribute to some volatility.

S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 6 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 44 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 13 points.

Rite Aid Corp shares were lower early Thursday, in the highest volume so far on the New York Stock Exchange, after it cut its full-year profit forecast for a second time this year and lowered the top end of its sales forecast.

Shares of the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain were last down 9.8 percent at $5.99 after advancing 31.2 percent so far this year to Wednesday’s close.

An erectile dysfunction drug that halves the time patients need to take the pill before sexual activity has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, driving shares of Vivus Inc, one of its developers, up 15 percent to $4.46.

Pier 1 Imports shares were falling 11.8 percent to $13.71 a day after it slashed its full-year earnings forecast to $0.95-$1.05 per share from $1.14-$1.22 and reported a weaker-than-expected profit for the second quarter.

U.S. housing starts and permits fell in August, but upward revisions to the prior month’s data suggested the housing market continued to gradually improve. Separate data showed a sharp drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week suggested the slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration.

The Philly Fed business index is due at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).

Editing by Bernadette Baum

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