Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday, a day after the S&P 500 benchmark index racked up its highest closing level for the year, while investors awaited data on the labor market.
Texas Instruments Inc
Shares in Texas Instruments
Offsetting this, Monsanto
Investor focus also will be on health insurance stocks after President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Wednesday night pushing for healthcare reform. Obama told Congress to end its political bickering and move quickly on a broad overhaul of the health system and insurance market.
The Labor Department releases weekly first-time claims for jobless benefits at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Also, the Commerce Department releases July international trade at the same time.
The S&P 500 faces resistance at the 1,039 to 1,043 range that could keep the index from climbing much higher in the short term, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont. The index closed at 1,033.37 in the previous session.
You may be reaching a point of exhaustion up here, but it's too early to say whether this resistance point is real or whether it's just a matter of time until the liquidity overcomes this resistance.
Mendelsohn said stocks could also face pressure if investors become more concerned that the economy is not improving as fast as initially anticipated.
S&P 500 futures fell 0.6 points and 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 lost 2 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 2 points.
Oil firm Chevron
Stocks accumulated a fourth day of gains on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to its best finish so far this year as industrial and technology companies gained from a weak dollar. It was the highest close for the broad index since early October when it ended at 1,056.89.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)