NEW YORK - U.S. stocks were set to edge higher at the open on Thursday following upbeat labor market data, while developments in the Ukrainian crisis kept traders on edge.
Crimea's parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia, and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum for March 16 on the decision, in a dramatic escalation of the crisis between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.
Moscow stocks fell 2.2 percent and the ruble weakened 0.7 percent versus the U.S. dollar after the Crimean vote. A U.S.-traded Russian ETF fell 2.4 percent in light pre-market trading.
In a positive sign for the U.S. labor market, weekly applications for unemployment aid fell to 323,000, the lowest in three months. Sales and orders for long-lasting items are due at 10 a.m. EST
S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 3 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking intoaccount interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 25points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3 points.