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S&P 500 Futures Little Changed After Jobless, Productivity Data

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures were little changed after jobless claims decreased less than economists estimated and worker productivity fell more than projected, pushing labor expenses up.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in March added less than 0.1 percent to 1,506.8 at 8:35 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 2 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 13,926 today.

Applications for jobless benefits dropped 5,000 to 366,000 in the week ended Feb. 2, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 360,000 claims, according to the median of 53 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Productivity, the measure of employee output per hour decreased at a 2 percent annual rate, the worst performance in almost two years, after a 3.2 percent gain in the prior three months, a Labor Department report. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 63 economists called for a 1.4 percent drop. Expenses per worker increased at a 4.5 percent rate, more than estimated.

The S&P 500 has rallied 6 percent in 2013 as U.S. lawmakers reached a budget compromise and companies reported better-than- estimated earnings. The benchmark equity gauge is 3.4 percent below its record high reached in October 2007. It has more than doubled since bottoming in March 2009 as the Federal Reserve conducted three rounds of bond-buying to lower interest rates and boost economic growth.

The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged even as a stronger currency threatens the euro area’s recovery from recession. Policy makers meeting in Frankfurt kept the benchmark rate at a record low of 0.75 percent, as forecast by all 60 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. President Mario Draghi holds a press conference at 2:30 p.m. to explain the decision.

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