US futures fall on Ukraine fears

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WallStreet1234 REUTERS The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stock index futures fell on Thursday after Ukraine's president said Russian forces had been brought into his country, bringing concerns over the volatile region back into focus.

* Worries over tension abroad had largely faded from Wall Street, with major indexes seeing few negative days over the past two weeks and both the Dow and S&P hitting records.

However, the market has been looking for direction, with daily moves small and trading volume light.

* Bank stocks may be in focus after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating media reports that several US financial firms - including, according to sources, JPMorgan Chase & Co - have been victims of recent cyber attacks.

* Ukraine accused Russia of mounting an invasion in the southeast of the country in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

The country's security and defence council said that the border town of Novoazovsk and other parts of Ukraine's south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces.

* Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday Russian forces had been “brought into Ukraine” and called an urgent meeting of the security and defence council to decide the next steps to take in the crisis.

* While few US companies have heavy exposure to either country, investors are worried about the potential fallout from any escalation in tensions, including increased sanctions.

An index of major shares in Europe, which has much more exposure, fell 0.8 percent.

If European growth is depressed by the conflict, that could have an indirect impact on the United States.

* Russia's dollar-denominated RTS index slumped 3.3 percent.

The Market Vectors Russia Exchange-Traded Fund fell 2.7 percent to $24.45 in premarket trading.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 6 points and were 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 e-mini futures fell 49 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 11.75 points.

* S&P 500 futures are indicating a drop of 0.3 percent, which would represent the biggest one-day decline for the benchmark index since August 7.

The index has risen for 11 of the past 14 sessions, and has closed above 2,000 for the past two days.

The Nasdaq 100 closed higher for its 11th straight session on Wednesday, its longest winning streak in about 14 months.

* Investors are also looking ahead to data on US economic growth on Thursday, as well as the labour and housing markets.

Gross domestic product is seen up 3.9 percent in the second quarter, compared with the previous read of 4 percent.

* The GDP report is due at 8:30 a.m. (14:30 SA time), as are weekly jobless claims, which are seen rising by 2,000 to 300,000 in the latest week.

Pending home sales data will be released at 10 am, with sales forecast to be up 0.5 percent. - Reuters

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