* Fed removes ‘patient’ but cuts economic projections
* Lennar, Guess post strong quarterly earnings
* Futures down: Dow 45 pts, S&P 6.5 pts, Nasdaq 4 pts (adds market moves, commentary)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were down slightly on Thursday implying a lower opening for stocks after the Federal Reserve cut economic growth and inflation projections and indicated it was in no rush to hike interest rates.
U.S. stocks had ended up higher on Wednesday as investors, who had sold equities ahead of the meeting, were relieved by Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s dovish outlook.
But investors will now seek signs of improvements in the U.S. economy after Yellen “removed the word ‘patient’ but underscored the need for patience”, said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Clearpool Group in New York.
“Yesterday’s rally has all the appearances of being a one-day pop,” he said.
“She’s basically told markets it’s later rather than sooner. That provides some buoyancy for the markets, but it’s going to take significantly more than that for the markets to move higher. Better economic data would be a very important component.”
Weekly initial jobless claims showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose only modestly last week, indicating the labor market remained on solid footing despite slowing economic growth.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 6.5 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 45 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 4 points.
The U.S. current account deficit widened sharply in the fourth quarter and was the largest since 2012, as exports and the primary income surplus fell.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business survey is due out at 10:00 a.m.
Greek banks saw deposit outflows of about 300 million euros on Wednesday, the highest level in a single day since a Feb. 20 accord with euro zone partners over new tensions with EU, two senior Greek bankers familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
Lennar shares were up 1.8 percent to $50.60 in premarket trading after it reported a 47 percent jump in quarterly profit as it sold more higher-priced homes.
Guess Inc shares rose 10.8 percent to $18.54 in premarket trading after it reported a quarterly profit that beat analyst estimates as the apparel retailer’s expenses declined and online business grew.
Target Corp said it would raise the minimum wage for its workers to $9 an hour, matching moves made by rivals including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It also agreed to pay $10 million in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit related to a huge 2013 data breach.
Web hosting company GoDaddy Inc said in a regulatory filing that it expects to raise $418 million in an initial public offering. (Reporting by Sinead Carew and Chuck Mikojczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)