US STOCKS-Futures flat, but crude oil sharply lower

jueves 19 de febrero de 2015 08:02 GYT

* Crude oil slumps, but above $50 per barrel

* Greece aims to finish euro zone deal "soon"

* Jobless claims awaited, seen falling in latest week

* Dow down 7 pts, S&P down 1.5 pt, Nasdaq up 3.5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors looked ahead to data on the labor market and continued to digest recent comments by Federal Reserve officials.

* Fed policymakers expressed concern last month that raising interest rates too soon could pour cold water on the U.S. economic recovery, according to minutes from the Fed's Jan. 27-28 meeting. Stocks generally have risen with any sign the Fed could raise rates later rather than sooner.

* Energy shares looked to be in focus as crude oil fell 4 percent to $50.08 after another big weekly build in U.S. crude inventories and possible rise in Saudi output added to worries about oversupply. The commodity has rebounded 15 percent from a recent bottom hit in late January but is still down more than 50 percent from a June peak.

* While the decline in energy prices is expected to spur consumer spending, it has severely hurt oil companies, with many cutting spending plans for 2015 in a bearish sign for economic growth prospects. Late Wednesday, Marathon Oil said it would cut its 2015 capital budget by 20 percent, the second cut of that magnitude since December.   Continuación...