* Oil jumps after air strikes on Yemen
* SanDisk tumbles in premarket after outlook cut
* Weekly jobless claims less than expected
* Flash Markit services sector PMI on tap
* Futures off: Dow 85 pts, S&P 8.75 pts, Nasdaq 33.25 pts (Adds quote, data)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a lower open on Thursday to put the S&P 500 on track for a fourth straight decline, after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Yemen.
Oil prices spiked, with Brent crude up 2.8 percent to $58.04 and U.S. crude up 2.4 percent to $50.38 after warplanes from Saudi Arabia and its allies struck Shi‘ite Muslim rebels fighting to oust Yemen’s president. Halliburton shares gained 1.5 percent to $44.12 in premarket trade.
“We are looking at an ugly open. Obviously the situation in Yemen is being used as the excuse for this pullback, which is a continuation of yesterday,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
“Whether or not this is the beginning of a correction that could take us down by eight or ten percent I‘m not sure, but certainly the ingredients for one are in the making.”
U.S. stocks had dropped on Wednesday as a slump in technology and biotechs sent the Nasdaq to its biggest decline in nearly a year while the S&P 500 fell through key support levels.
Semiconductor stocks are likely to be under pressure for a fourth straight session, after SanDisk cut its first-quarter and 2015 revenue outlook and withdrew its other forecasts for the same time frame. Shares of SanDisk tumbled 14.4 percent to $69.50 before the opening bell. The PHLX semiconductor index had its biggest drop since Oct. 10 on Wednesday and is down 6.3 percent for the week.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 8.75 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a lower open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures fell 85 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 33.25 points.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000, the lowest level since mid-February and below the 290,000 estimate, indicating continued strength in the labor market.
At 9:45 a.m. (1345 GMT), the preliminary or “flash” March reading of financial data firm Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index on the services sector is scheduled for release.
Lululemon Athletica lost 4.4 percent to $58.30 in premarket after the Canadian yogawear retailer forecast a weaker-than expected first-quarter profit, months after it said margins would trough in 2015 as it continues to invest in improving quality and solving supply-chain problems.
Consulting and outsourcing company Accenture Plc’s quarterly net revenue rose 5 percent, helped by growth in its outsourcing business as North American companies look to cut costs. Its shares rose 3.3 percent to $91.10 before the opening bell. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)