US STOCKS-Wall Street set for lower open after Russia sanctions
* Initial claims fall, housing starts short of estimates
* Morgan Stanley climbs in premarket after earnings
* Microsoft to cut up to 18,000 jobs, 14 percent of force
* Futures off: Dow 39 pts, S&P 8.5 pts, Nasdaq 16 pts (Adds data, link to Morning Call, updates prices)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a lower open on Thursday, in the wake of fresh U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia and weaker-than-expected housing data.
* The U.S. sanctions announced late Wednesday hit some of Russia's biggest firms while the EU sanctions were aimed at Russian companies that help destabilize Ukraine and will block new loans to Russia through two multilateral lenders. Russia's MICEX index lost 2.9 percent.
* Housing starts were well short of expectations in June, as groundbreaking declined 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual 893,000 million unit-pace, the lowest since September, against expectations for a 1.02 million-unit rate.
* But initial jobless claims dropped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 for the week ended July 12 versus expectations calling for claims of 310,000. Continuación...