US STOCKS-Futures flat after extended equity weakness
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK Oct 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday, following a sharp drop in the previous session as investors looked to upcoming economic data for trading incentives.
* Equities have been weak of late, with the S&P 500 down for seven of the past nine sessions, and closing under its 100-day moving average for the first time since Aug. 7 on Wednesday.
* While the benchmark index is only 3.2 percent away from its record close, the Russell 2000 on Wednesday ended more than 10 percent below its own record, putting the small-cap index in correction territory.
* Small-cap stocks are considered a leading sector of the market, and some market participants are concerned the weakness could spread throughout Wall Street. However, the Russell also underwent a sharp pullback earlier this year, which didn't lead to similar losses in the S&P.
* Wednesday's losses followed the first diagnosis of a patient with Ebola in the United States, news that pressured equities broadly but had an outsized impact on airline and transportation companies.
* Weekly jobless claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT(1230 GMT) and are seen rising by 4,000 to 297,000 in the latest week. It follows Wednesday's read on private-sector employment, which showed more jobs added in September than expected. The claims data will be the last read on the labor market before Friday's jobs report, which is seen recovering sharply from August's weak report.
* After the market opens, data on durable goods and factory orders, both for August, will be released, as will the Institute for Supply Management's read on New York economic activity.