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* Alpine Immune surges on Vertex Pharma's $4.9-bln takeover

* March producer prices at 2.1% YoY vs 2.2% estimated

* Futures: Dow down 0.07%, S&P down 0.05%, Nasdaq up 0.10%

April 11 (Reuters) -

The Nasdaq eyed a higher open on Thursday after softer-than-anticipated producer prices data soothed investor fears about sticky inflation, keeping hopes of rate cuts from the Federal Reserve this year alive.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow, however, indicated a subdued open.

A Labor Department report showed the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand rose 0.2% in March, against forecasts of a 0.3% increase, according to economists polled by Reuters. Annually, it rose to 2.1%, versus an estimate of 2.2%.

"The producer prices came in a little bit better than expected and it was really a surprise, given the rise that we've seen in commodity prices and a lot of input prices," said Paul Nolte, senior wealth advisor and market strategist for Murphy & Sylvest.

"Some of this will flow through to PCE in a couple weeks, so the PCE might be a little bit better than expected."

A separate report showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits came in at 211,000 for the week ended April 6, against estimates of 215,000.

Wall Street sold off sharply in the last session after data showed U.S. consumer prices increased more than expected in March, leading financial markets to deduce that the central bank might delay cutting interest rates until September this year.

Further fueling concerns, minutes of the central bank's March meeting showed officials were worried progress on inflation could have stalled and a longer period of tight monetary policy might be needed to tame the pace of price increases.

Several brokerages have shifted their rate-cut outlooks, with UBS Global Wealth Management now expecting the Fed to start cutting interest rates in September, compared to June earlier, while BNP Paribas anticipates the first cut in July.

Yields across government bonds eased after Wednesday's spike, with the 10-year note last at 4.5375%.

Traders pared back enthusiasm for monetary policy easing this year, with bets now showing only about 45 basis points of cuts expected in 2024, according to LSEG data. This is down from about 150 bps seen at the start of the year.

Investors will also watch for comments from Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic for hints on the central bank's rate trajectory.

The first-quarter earnings season will pick up pace on Friday, when a trio of big banks - JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and Wells Fargo - is slated to post quarterly results.

At 8:44 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 29 points, or 0.07%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.5 points, or 0.05%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 18.75 points, or 0.10%.

Biotech firm Alpine Immune Sciences is set to be acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals for about $4.9 billion in cash, both companies said. Alpine surged 36.6% in premarket trading. Albemarle gained 1.4% after Berenberg upgraded the lithium miner's rating to "buy" from "hold".

CarMax shed 9.0% after the pre-owned vehicles retailer posted a nearly 27% drop in fourth-quarter profit, hurt by decreased profitability from units sold.

Fastenal fell 5.0% after the industrial supplies maker missed first-quarter estimates for revenue and profit. (Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)