Stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors looked ahead to weekly jobless claims data, one last clue about the state of the labor market before Friday's key jobs report.
Economic data has largely pointed to growth and expansion, but the ADP report on private employment on Wednesday raised some caution about the labor market.
About 375,000 initial claims are expected in the latest week, a dip of 2,000 from the previous week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). The number comes a day ahead of the January non-farm payroll report, which is expected to show 150,000 jobs added in January, a decline from the previous month, which benefited from holiday hiring.
It's not surprising to see a flat day today, considering the run we've had and that no one is willing to take a bet before payrolls, said Rick Fier, vice president at Conifer Securities in New York.
Materials and other cyclical groups could gain on hopes that China, the world's largest consumer of metals, would further ease monetary policy to stimulate its economy.
S&P 500 futures dipped 1.6 points and were slightly below 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 fell 16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 1.25 points.
On Wednesday, equities rallied almost 1 percent on strong overseas data and growing optimism Greece was closing in on a deal with private creditors.
Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion in the biggest-ever Internet initial public offering, according to a filing Wednesday. In 2011, it said, net income rose 65 percent to $1 billion on revenue of $3.71 billion.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co
Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc
Dow Chemical Co
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc
Earnings have been decent relative to history, but compared with last year they're disappointing, said Fier, who helps oversee $12 billion in assets. We're seeing a slowing in revenue growth.
In other economic data due Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management-New York releases the January index of regional business activity at 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT) In December, the index read 534.0.
Investors will scour testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will speak on the state of the economy before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
U.S. stocks extended January's rally on Wednesday, but some strategists see the benchmark S&P 500 approaching a short-term top after gaining 4.4 percent last month.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)