US STOCKS-Wall St little changed after 2-day drop, data
* Initial jobless claims climb more than expected
* Factory orders fall for sixth straight month
* AbbVie to buy Pharmacyclics for about $21 bln
* Indexes: Dow up 0.07 pct, S&P off 0.08 pct, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct (Updates to afternoon, adds comments)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday, after two days of declines on the S&P 500, as economic data did little to alter expectations on the timing of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate and 313,000 in the prior week. The disappointing claims numbers come after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday's monthly employment report.
Investors were looking ahead to the jobs report due out on Friday to help them assess the timing of the Fed's first interest rate hike in years, said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners, in Chicago.
"We're kind of tapping our foot for tomorrow's non-farm payroll," said Battle. "The Federal Reserve made it very clear they're going to raise rates but its going to be data dependent. It's one of the benchmark numbers they're looking at." Continuación...