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* Futures: Dow down 0.19%, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.22%
Dec 7 (Reuters) -
Futures tracking the Dow and the S&P 500 indexes were largely flat on Thursday ahead of the monthly payrolls report later this week, while Nasdaq futures were propped up by a rise in Google.
Equities have come under pressure in December after strong gains last month on bets that the Federal Reserve was done with its interest rate hikes given easing inflation.
The payrolls data on Friday will likely give investors pointers to the Fed's interest rate path and the potential for a "soft landing" of the U.S. economy.
At 5:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 68 points, or 0.19%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 35.25 points, or 0.22%.
Shares of Google-parent Alphabet were up 2.8% in premarket trading, a day after the release of its most advanced artificial intelligence model. Other megacap stocks were mixed.
Weak private payrolls and job openings have reinforced expectations the Fed's rate-hiking campaign is slowing the economy, allowing the central bank to potentially start cutting interest rates early next year.
Traders have nearly fully priced in the likelihood of the Fed keeping interest rates unchanged at its meeting next week, with 61% betting on a rate cut as soon as March 2024, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
However, some analysts have warned that markets have been too optimistic about rate cuts and also said the upcoming jobs report will be crucial in determining the chances of a soft landing - where the Fed manages to avert a recession.
"US jobs numbers tomorrow and central bank meetings next week could inform the market if it has got carried away with the level of rate cuts which are now being priced in for 2024," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell said in a note.
The Labor Department's report is expected to show non-farm payrolls increased by 180,000 jobs last month after rising by 150,000 in October.
Another report due at 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday is expected to show initial jobless claims ticked up to 222,000 for the week ended Dec. 2 compared to 218,000 in the prior week.
Meanwhile, comments from Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda added to growing speculation that the central bank could soon shift away from its ultra-easy monetary policy.
Among major movers, Advanced Micro Devices jumped 3.6% premarket, a day after the chipmaker estimated there was a $45 billion market for its data center artificial intelligence processors this year.
GameStop tumbled 7.6% after the videogame retailer missed quarterly revenue estimates, hurt by rising competition. (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)