* Q1 GDP increases 0.5 pct vs est 0.7 pct
* Weekly jobless claims also rise
* Facebook jumps premarket; set for record open
* Futures down: Dow 140 pts, S&P 14.5 pts, Nasdaq 17.75 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
April 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open lower on Thursday after the Bank of Japan stunned markets by holding off from expanding monetary stimulus, showing yet again how vulnerable markets are to central bank decisions.
The BOJ’s decision to hold steady in the face of soft global demand and a rise in the yen was particularly jarring for markets after media reports that the central bank wanted to go deeper into negative interest rates.
The BOJ’s decision comes a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to hold steady on rates and after fears eased that the Fed would signal a rise in June.
While the labor market continues to gain strength, inflation remains below the central bank’s 2 percent target.
“We would not expect the Bank of Japan’s decision to have a sustainable, lasting impact on the U.S., but we do think that it is yet another illustration of the power that central banks have upon the markets,” said Erik Wytenus, global investment specialist at J.P Morgan Private Bank in Palm Beach, Florida.
“It has been over half a decade now where central banks are really the most important factor in capital markets.”
Data on Thursday showed that U.S. economic growth braked sharply to its slowest pace in two years as consumer spending softened. Gross domestic product increased at a 0.5 percent, below the 0.7 percent increase expected by economists polled by Reuters.
Another piece of data showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits had risen to 257,000 last week from 247,000 the week before, but the underlying trend remained consistent with tightening labor market conditions.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 14.5 points, or 0.69 percent, with 302,748 contracts traded at 8:34 a.m. ET (1234 GMT). Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 17.75 points, or 0.4 percent, on volume of 40,012 contracts. Dow e-minis were down 140 points, or 0.78 percent, with 43,127 contracts changing hands.
Economists polled by Reuters expect two rate increases this year but futures prices show traders do not expect a hike until at least September, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
With the S&P 500 less than 2 percent away from its record high, traders are struggling to find fresh catalysts to send the index above that mark.
The Dow and S&P 500 closed slightly higher on Wednesday, while Nasdaq was dragged down by poor results from Apple .
First-quarter corporate earnings are expected to fall 6.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Facebook shares jumped 10.8 percent to $120.70 in premarket trading and were set to open at a record high, a day after the company’s revenue rose 50 percent.
Domino’s Pizza fell 10.2 percent to $120 after its results missed estimates, while Ford was up 2 percent at $13.93 after reporting a 113 percent surge in quarterly profit.
St. Jude Medical soared 24.8 percent to $77.23 after Abbott Laboratories said it agreed to buy the medical device maker for $25 billion. Abbott was down 8.9 percent at $39.95. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Don Sebastian)