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US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors prepare for rate hike
March 13, 2017 / 11:33 AM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors prepare for rate hike

* Futures down: Dow 9 pts, S&P 2.25 pts, Nasdaq 2 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

March 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday as investors braced for an action-packed week headlined by an all-but-certain interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

* The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy-setting board, is expected to lift interest rates by a quarter point to 0.75 percent-1.00 percent.

* A blowout monthly jobs number on Friday underscored the strength of the U.S. labor market and that the economy could absorb a rate hike.

* Traders have placed a 94 percent bet that Fed Chair Janet Yellen will announce an increase after a two-day meeting on Wednesday. Investors will be watching out for clues if the Fed could become more aggressive as the economy shows signs of improvement.

* The dollar, which tends to strengthen as rate climb, was up for the first time in three days, but prices of safe-haven gold also rose due to uncertainty ahead of elections in Europe.

* Wall Street ended higher on Friday but the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq snapped a six-week winning streak as worries about valuations and the lack of detail on President Donald Trump’s policy proposals threw a wrinkle in a post-election rally.

* Oil prices could keep the market under pressure on Monday, as U.S. crude hit a more than three-month low of $48.31 on rising inventories.

* Shares of Mobileye soared 34.33 percent to $63.50 in heavy premarket trading after chipmaker Intel said it would buy the driving assistant software maker for about $15.3 billion in equity value. Intel’s shares were marginally lower, while shares other U.S. chipmakers rose slightly.

* Dow component Boeing was down 1.5 percent at $176 following a Morgan Stanley downgrade of the planemaker’s stock to “equal-weight” from “overweight”.

* IT research and advisory firm Gartner rose 5.8 percent to $112.17 after RBC said the stock was its “top pick” among those it rated “outperform”.

Futures snapshot at 7:01 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 9 points, or 0.04 percent, with 3,868 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.09 percent, with 81,663 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 2 points, or 0.04 percent, on volume of 4,552 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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