US STOCKS-Wall St flat as focus shifts to jobs report
* Weekly jobless claims fall to 249,000 vs. est. 257,000
* Dollar index surges to 11-week high
* Wal-Mart biggest drag on S&P 500, Dow
* Dow down 0.05 pct, S&P up 0.08 pct, Nasdaq down 0.08 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed on Thursday, a day ahead of a crucial employment report that would show whether the economy is strong enough to absorb an interest rate hike.
A growing number of U.S. Federal Reserve officials have argued for higher rates as the labor market remains solid and inflation inches towards the central bank's 2 percent target.
The view was encouraged by a report that showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 43-year low last week.
"At the moment, what is driving the U.S. market is a repricing around expectations of near-term Fed action," said Bill Merz, investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Continuación...