US STOCKS-Futures little changed as investors await economic data
* Futures: Dow up 1 pt, S&P down 0.25 pts, Nasdaq up 1 pt
By Tanya Agrawal
March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors await a raft of economic data to further assess the health of the economy.
* While concerns linger over the state of the global economy, improvement in U.S. economic data, including manufacturing, construction spending, auto sales and private jobs, earlier this week have helped ease some of those worries.
* Jobless claims likely slipped last week as the labor market continues to gain strength. The data, due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), comes ahead of the comprehensive labor report for February on Friday.
* The ISM non-manufacturing PMI index, expected at 10 a.m. ET, is likely to show a slight drop to 53.2 in February from 53.5 in January, suggesting that the service sector slowed slightly, although it continues to expand.
* The calmer mood in world markets showed in the CBOE Volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, which closed at its lowest level so far this year on Wednesday.
* As of Wednesday's close, the S&P 500 index is down only 2.8 percent, recouping from a fall of over 10 percent earlier this year.
* Solid economic data could bolster expectations that the Federal Reserve remains on track to raise interest rates this year. Fed funds futures suggested traders are pricing a 61 percent chance of a rate hike by year-end. Continuación...