May 5, 2017 / 11:33 AM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat ahead of jobs report; IBM drops

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Friday, with investors on the sidelines ahead of a crucial monthly jobs report that could influence the chances of an interest rate hike next month.

* Shares of IBM tumbled 3 percent premarket after Warren Buffett said he had sold about a third of his stake in the company. The stock was the biggest loser among the Dow and S&P companies trading before the bell.

* Investors are hoping for a rebound in jobs growth in April, after a sharp slowdown in March, that could pave the way for the Federal Reserve to raise rates in June.

* The report from the Labor Department, due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), is expected to show 185,000 jobs were added last month, compared with an underwhelming gain of 98,000 in March.

* Traders have priced in 70 percent odds of the Fed raising rates in June, after the central bank earlier this week downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and emphasized the strength of the labor market.

* Despite concerns over economic growth, U.S. companies have generally handed in better-than-expected earnings reports for the quarter.

* Overall profits for S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 14.8 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That is higher than the 10.1 percent growth rate estimated at the start of the earnings season.

* Wall Street ended flat on Thursday as a steep fall in oil prices countered some solid earnings reports.

* Oil prices are trading near five-month lows, triggering demand for safe-haven assets. Gold is likely to remain in favor ahead of the final round of the French presidential election on Sunday.

* Zynga jumped nearly 11 percent to $3.14 after the creator of FarmVille gave a strong current-quarter bookings forecast.

* VWR Corp slipped 4.4 percent to $32.55 after a private equity firm said it would buy the lab supplies company at a discount to its Thursday’s close.

Futures snapshot at 6:59 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 7 points, or 0.03 percent, with 15,791 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.5 points, or 0.06 percent, with 78,359 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.05 percent, on volume of 15,463 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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