(Refiles to add dropped word “to” in headline)
* Auto sales expected throughout session
* Best Buy climbs in premarket after results
* Citigroup to sell OneMain Financial to Springleaf Holdings
* Futures off: Dow 38 pts, S&P 5.75 pts, Nasdaq 9.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a modestly lower open on Tuesday, after the Dow and S&P marched to new record highs and the Nasdaq topped the 5,000 mark for the first time in 15 years.
The Nasdaq notched its first close above the 5,000 milestone since March 10, 2000, buoyed by merger activity, for only the third close above that level in the history of the index. The Dow and S&P closed at their latest records as economic data pointed to a slowly improving economy.
“The market is naturally settling in, taking a breather until the scales tip either way to commence the next move to continued to new heights or a consolidated pullback,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“It’s a pause before the next set of impactful numbers come out, highlighted by the jobs report on Friday.”
Investors will look to monthly auto sales data throughout the session for signs on the health of the U.S. economy and the appetite of consumer spending. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported that U.S. February sales rose 6 percent, which missed analysts’ expectations and put into question the bullish outlook for monthly industry sales.
Electronics retailer Best Buy climbed 1.7 percent to $39.27 in premarket trade after it reported quarterly results, announced a special dividend and the resumption of its share repurchase plan.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 5.75 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 modestly lower open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures fell 38 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 9.25 points.
Citigroup edged up 0.7 percent to $53.86 before the opening bell. It agreed to sell its consumer finance unit OneMain Financial Holdings Inc to subprime lender Springleaf Holdings Inc for $4.25 billion in cash.
Mylan Inc slipped 0.7 percent to $57.50 after the generic drug maker gave its 2015 outlook and said it may look for another acquisition in the wake of completing a deal for some of Abbott Laboratories’ non-U.S. businesses just last week.
MannKind Corp tumbled 10.1 percent to $5.97 in premarket after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the drugmaker to “sell” from “neutral” and slashed its price target to $3 from $6 per share.
U.S.-listed shares of Tower Semiconductor jumped 10.1 percent to $18.49 before the opening bell. The Israeli chipmaker said TowerJazz won a contract to make infrared sensors for Intel’s 3D cameras. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)