Wall St set for flat open after data

Wall Street was set to open little changed on Thursday after data showed weekly jobless claims declined while nonfarm productivity was weaker than previously thought in the second quarter.

New U.S. jobless claims fell by 12,000 as expected last week, showing little sign of a pick-up in layoffs in the wake of a slump in business and consumer confidence.

U.S. nonfarm productivity was weaker in the second quarter and wage growth was a bit stronger, but not enough to ignite inflation pressures.

The data was closely watched by investors as they may affect the outcome of a meeting next week of the U.S. Federal Reserve and comes ahead of the highly anticipated U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for August due Friday.

“They’re (jobless claims) very close to street expectations. The more important thing going into tomorrow’s report is you had a substantial increase in the number of people on state benefit roles on the weekend of the 13th, and that suggests there could be some significant downside risk to the consensus number for payrolls,” said Brian Jones, senior economist at Societe Generale in New York.

S&P 500 futures lost 0.5 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 gained 5 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.75 points.