Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday as investors found little reason to buy after three days of gains on the S&P 500 and a weaker report on jobless claims.
Nasdaq futures were pressured as Apple Inc
Jobs, who has fought and survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer, said he could no longer perform the duties of the job. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook takes over as CEO.
The resignation won't impact the dynamics of the company, but it will have an impact on the investor psyche when it comes to the stock, said Rick Fier, vice president at Conifer Securities in New York, which has about $7 billion in assets under administration. It becomes a 'show me' stock now, though the decline today creates a good entry point for buying.
Jobless claims rose more than forecast in the latest week, lifted by striking Verizon Communications
S&P 500 futures dipped 0.4 point but were 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 added 11 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 6.75 points.
The labor report was one of the final pieces of data before a keenly awaited speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who many investors hope will offers hints of new stimulus to aid the struggling economy.
Some have said recent discouraging data increased the odds of such a plan, but more gradual measures are considered the most likely outcome of the speech during the central bank's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Unemployment is still weaker than anyone would like ... (but) this shouldn't have too big of an impact on Bernanke tomorrow, said Mitch Rubin, chief investment officer at RiverPark Advisors in New York.
People will be marginally disappointed if no big plan is offered, he added, but who can say what the impact will be after such a weak month?
Wall Street has been marked by steep volatility in recent weeks on concerns about the global economy and sovereign debt woes in Europe. The CBOE Volatility index <.VIX> is up 42 percent so far in August, while the S&P has fallen 8.9 percent.
Credit Suisse Global Equity Strategist Andrew Garthwaite cut his S&P year-end target to 1,220 from 1,350.
Banks have born the brunt of the volatility, and the sector is likely to remain in focus Thursday. Bank of America Corp
Both discount chain Big Lots Inc's
U.S. stocks rallied for a second day Wednesday as investors bought beaten-down financial shares and unloaded gold.
(Editing by Jeff Benkoe)