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Stock Futures Flat Ahead of Batch of Economic Data


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Thursday as investors awaited a big batch of economic data while keeping a very close eye on developments in the U.S. 'fiscal cliff' talks.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 2 points, or 40.03 points above fair value, at 13,217. Futures for the S&P 500 were flat, or 3.69 points above fair value, at 1433. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2.50 points, or 10.01 points above fair value, at 2695.

"While negotiations on the fiscal cliff have stalled over the last couple of days, the likelihood of going past year-end without any resolution of the fiscal cliff has not increased, in our view," according to Goldman Sachs economists. "This is due in part to progress made to date in negotiations between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. However, it is also because it has become increasingly possible that if those negotiations fail, a fallback plan could be passed to avert at least some of the fiscal restraint scheduled for 2013, with remaining issues potentially revisited in early 2013."

Major U.S. stock averages fell Wednesday for the first time this week as politicians wrangled over the "fiscal cliff" deal in Washington.

At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Labor Department is expected by economists to say that initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 15 rose to 357,000 from 343,000, and that continuing claims for the week ended Dec. 8 increased to 3.199 million from 3.198 million.

At the same time, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is expected to report that the third read on third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product was revised up to 2.8% from the prior estimate of 2.7%.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors is forecast to say that existing-homes sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million in November from a pace of 4.79 million in October.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's business outlook survey, out at 10 a.m. as well, is expected to show an improvement to minus 3 for December from minus 10.7 in November.

Simultaneously, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index is predicted to have declined to minus 0.2% in November after increasing 0.2% in October.

Also out at 10 a.m. is the Federal Housing Finance Agency's housing price index for October.

The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.07% and the DAX in Germany was lower by 0.08%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up by 0.16% and Japan's Nikkei average finished off 1.19% on Wednesday.

Gold for February delivery was up 50 cents at $1,668.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were down 10 cents at $89.88 a barrel.