May 22, 2014 / 1:16 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St to open flat after jobless claims; housing data due

* Initial claims rise, but still near 7-yr low

* Best Buy rebounds from early declines after results

* Futures up: Dow 11 pts, S&P 0.75 pt, Nasdaq 3.25 pts (Adds initial jobless claims data, updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open little changed on Thursday, in the wake of data showing initial jobless claims rose in the latest week but were still near pre-recession levels, and ahead of data on the housing market.

* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits were up 28,000 at 326,000 in the week ended May 17, above the 310,000 forecast but close to a seven-year low, pointing to ongoing healing in the labor market.

* Existing home sales data for April is due later at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), and will be monitored for signs of stabilization in the housing arena. Forecasts are for a rise of 2.2 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million, after hitting a 1-1/2 year low in March.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.75 point and were roughly even 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 e-mini futures gained 11 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 3.25 points.

* Best Buy Co rebounded from early declines in premarket trading to rise 1.3 percent to $25.69. The electronics retailer reported first-quarter earnings that topped expectations, though revenue fell short of forecasts as domestic comparable store sales fell 1.3 percent.

* Sears Holdings Corp posted a bigger loss for the first quarter as the struggling retailer failed to arrest a fall in sales despite offering heavy discounts to woo shoppers. Its shares lost 1.5 percent to $36 before the opening bell.

* Reynolds American Inc is in active discussions to buy Lorillard Inc in a complicated, three-way transaction that could see British American Tobacco PLC take a major role to back a potential merger, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp said it would buy oil and natural gas producer Hess Corp’s retail business for about $2.87 billion. Shares of Hess gained 1.9 percent to $91 in premarket trading.

* U.S. stocks rebounded Wednesday from a selloff a day earlier, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average scoring its biggest gain in a month, after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed central bankers had discussed the eventual tightening of monetary policy but didn’t decide which tools to use. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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