* Jobless claims rose to 263,000 last week vs est. 265,000
* Nonfarm payrolls data due on Friday
* Futures up: Dow 37 pts, S&P 1 pt, Nasdaq 7.75 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan and Mamidipudi Soumithri
Sept 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open little changed on Thursday as investors awaited a set of economic data including Friday’s jobs report.
The stress on data has become especially apparent after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week that solid performance in the labor market has strengthened the case for an interest rate hike.
Investors will assess Friday’s monthly nonfarm payrolls numbers to see whether robust hiring from June continued through August. A Reuters survey of economists shows about 180,000 jobs were likely added in the month.
While the markets seem to be getting comfortable with the prospects of higher rates, the biggest question on everybody’s mind is the timing of the next increase.
A host of Fed officials have hinted that a rise could come as early as this month, but analysts have said the Fed would likely wait until December, given inflation rates running below its 2 percent target and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections in November.
Traders have priced in a 30 percent chance of a hike when the Fed meets on Sept 20-21. The odds rise to 57.2 percent for December, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
Adding reasons for the Fed to raise rates was a report that showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to 263,000 last week, compared with analysts’ estimate of 265,000.
“We’re looking at a little bit of a higher open right now,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York. “There is a swoon of economic data to focus on, but I think we may get some short covering as well, ahead of tomorrow’s unemployment data.”
Dow e-minis were up 37 points, or 0.2 percent at 8:50 a.m. ET, with 21,384 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 1 points, or 0.05 percent, with 177,437 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.16 percent, on volume of 27,043 contracts.
The Institute of Supply Management’s national factory activity index is expected to have edged lower to 52.0 this month from 52.6 in July. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) on Thursday.
Wall Street closed lower on Wednesday, with the S&P turning slightly negative for August, as weak oil prices weighed on energy stocks.
Charter Communications rose 4.6 percent to $269, premarket, after the S&P Dow Jones Indices said the cable services company is set to join the S&P 500 index.
Wynn Resorts jumped 4.7 percent to $93.51 after Macau, the world’s biggest casino hub, posted a 1.1 percent rise in gambling revenue in August.
Costco fell 2.3 percent after the company reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales.
Salesforce.com dropped 7 percent after the cloud software maker reported a disappointing current quarter revenue. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)