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U.S. futures steady, eyes on data; Dow Jones up 0.09%

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Shutterstock photo - U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve reiterated its commitment to its asset purchase program, while downbeat euro zone data added to concerns over the region's financial situation.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.09% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.02% dip, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.06% loss.

On Wednesday, the Fed announced that it will leave monetary policy unchanged, in spite of recent signs that the U.S. recovery is gaining traction, citing concerns over high unemployment levels and risks from tax increases and federal government spending cuts.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank may gradually wind down the pace of its bond buying, but only after the labor market shows signs of being on a more stable footing.

Earlier in the day, data showed that manufacturing activity in the euro zone deteriorated to a three-month low in March, while service sector activity in the bloc fell to a five-month low.

Retailers were expected to be active, after J.C. Penney said in an annual report on Wednesday that fixing its performance could take more time than it initially believed and suggested that any change in its strategy could be expensive.

Shares surged 1.24% in after-hour trade.

Separately, Guess, Tilly's and Pacific Sunwear of California forecast first-quarter results significantly below analysts' estimates as they battle lowering consumer demand, sending shares in Guess and Tilly's down 6.49% and 6.98% respectively.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing was also likely to be in focus, as the company was reportedly planning to conduct two flight tests of its revamped 787 battery system, possibly as soon as the end of the week.

The 787 flights, the first since February, would mark another step toward Boeing's recently announced goal of returning the jet to service in a matter of weeks.

In the pharmaceutical sector, a small majority of advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted on Wednesday for approval of Abbott Laboratories' implantable heart device MitraClip, saying it had more benefits than risks.

Shares in the company dipped 0.06% in late trading, however.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 dropped 0.64%, France's CAC 40 tumbled 0.94%, Germany's DAX retreated 0.75%, while Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.77%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.14%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rallied 1.34%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the weekly government report on initial jobless claims, as well as industry data on existing home sales and official data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia later Thursday. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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