US STOCKS-Futures inch higher, set to close out strong quarter

Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:30am EDT
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* U.S. weekly jobless claims, GDP final estimate on tap

* BlackBerry posts better-than-expected results

* Cyprus reopens banks under tight restrictions

* Futures: S&P up 1.4 pts, Dow up 27 pts, Nasdaq up 5 pts

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged up on Thursday and were set to close out a strong quarter, as investors shifted focus from Cyprus to data about the U.S. economy, which has been showing slow, steady improvement.

Investors awaited U.S. weekly jobless claims, which were expected to rise to 340,000. A final estimate of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product was forecast to show a 0.5 percent annualized growth rate, compared with a 0.1 percent in the prior estimate.

Both government reports were scheduled for 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) in the holiday-shortened week. U.S. markets will be closed for Good Friday.

Tight controls have been imposed on transactions by Cyprus's banks to limit cash withdrawals, ban checks and bar businesses from transferring money abroad in most cases as banks reopened after nearly two weeks.   Continued...