US STOCKS-Wall St to open lower after ADP; services data on tap

* ADP misses February expectations, January revised higher

* Markit, ISM services data on tap

* Honeywell reaffirms outlook

* Futures off: Dow 46 pts, S&P 5.75 pts, Nasdaq 10 pts (Adds quote, data)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were poised for a lower open on Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a second straight decline, after a softer-than-expected report on the labor market and ahead of data on the services sector.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 212,000 jobs in February, short of the 220,000 forecast, although January’s reading was revised upward to 250,000 from the initial 213,000.

Shortly after the opening bell, two readings on the services sector are expected with the final February reading of financial data firm Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index at 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT). The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge on the services sector in February is scheduled for a 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) release.

Investors will deal with a flurry of economic data for the rest of the week, culminating with the Labor Department’s February payrolls report, which will be used to help gauge the timing of an expected interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“The U.S. economy is seeing varying degrees of improvement with employment, manufacturing, housing, sentiment all showing progress. Beyond today’s report, the near-term focus is on Friday’s employment report. That will be more telling,” said Terry Sandven, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

“Given the strength we’ve had in the equity markets since the beginning of February, we are transitioning into a sideways-trending market as investors digest the recent gains and look for greater clarity.”

After a sluggish start to the year, equities charged higher in February, helping send both the Dow and S&P to record highs on Monday, and the Nasdaq hurdled the 5,000 level for the first time in 15 years. Major indexes retreated in Tuesday’s session on soft auto sales and weakness in technology shares.

S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 5.75 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a lower open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures fell 46 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 10 points.

Honeywell reaffirmed its first quarter and full-year earnings forecast as well as its five-year sales and segment margin outlook. Its shares were unchanged at $ 104.04 in premarket.

Bob Evans Farms said it was not currently looking at selling or spinning off its food-products business and was evaluating strategic options for all or part of its real-estate assets. Shares of the restaurant and packaged food company tumbled 18.8 percent to $ 48.45 before the opening bell.

Abercombie & Fitch slumped 8.3 percent to $ 22 in premarket after the teen apparel retailer said its quarterly profit fell by a third.

But fellow apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters jumped 9.3 percent to $ 16.20 after better-than-expected fourth quarter sales.

Alcoa fell 2.8 percent to $ 14.76 in premarket after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut the stock to a “neutral” rating.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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