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Wall Street warily awaits employment report

Stocks are expected to open barely changed on Wall Street Thursday as investors looked ahead to weekly jobless claims data for one last clue about the state of the labor market before Friday's key non-farm payrolls report.

Economic data has largely pointed to growth and expansion, but the ADP report on private employment on Wednesday raised some caution about the sector.

About 375,000 initial claims are expected in the latest week, a dip of 2,000 from the previous week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Materials and other cyclical groups could gain on hopes that China, the world's largest consumer of metals, would further ease monetary policy to stimulate its economy.

S&P 500 futures dipped 2.3 points and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 2.25 points.

On Wednesday, equities rallied almost 1 percent on strong overseas data and growing optimism Greece was closing in on a deal with private creditors.

Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion in the biggest-ever Internet initial public offering, according to a filing Wednesday. In 2011, it said, net income rose 65 percent to $1 billion on revenue of $3.71 billion.

JPMorgan Chase & Co surprised Wall Street by winning a leading role in the IPO.

Cigna Corp reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit early Thursday and forecast earnings below the Wall Street consensus.

Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc fell 1.1 percent to $38.20 in light premarket trading after the Dow component reported fourth-quarter sales that missed expectations and forecast flat full-year results.

Dow Chemical Co reported weaker-than-expected results on falling demand, sending shares down 3.4 percent to $32.80 before the bell.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc surged 21 percent to $65.10 in premarket trading a day after its first-quarter earnings far exceeded expectations.

In other economic data due Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management-New York releases the January index of regional business activity at 9:45 a.m. EST. In December, the index read 534.0.

Investors will scour testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will speak on the state of the economy before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. EST.

U.S. stocks extended January's rally on Wednesday. But after the S&P rose 4.4 percent last month, some strategists see the benchmark approaching a short-term top.