October 11, 2017 / 11:27 AM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as earnings season kicks off

* Futures down: Dow 8 pts, S&P 1.75 pts, Nasdaq 3.25 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday, with investors watching out for the first round of corporate reports for the third-quarter.

* BlackRock and Delta Air Lines were both up about 2 percent in premarket trading after reporting results, kicking off the earnings season.

* The focus though will be on reports from Wall Street banks JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup on Thursday.

* Strong earnings and hopes of a tax relief, despite little progress by the Trump administration, have pushed stocks to fresh highs this year.

* With the S&P 500 up 14 percent in 2017, investors are betting on strong earnings growth across the S&P 500.

* Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have risen 4.8 percent last quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, less than the double-digit growth in the first two quarters.

* World stocks hit fresh records as markets took relief from Catalonia stopping short of declaring immediate independence from Madrid.

* Also of interest will be the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, when it left interest rates unchanged but signaled one more hike by the end of 2017. The minutes will be released at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

* A Labor Department report at 10:00 a.m. ET is likely to show job openings, a measure of labor demand, fell to 6.125 million in August, from 6.170 million the month before.

* Among early movers, Micron Technology dipped 3.74 percent after launching a $1 billion stock offering.

* Stem cell therapy developer Athersys soared 42 percent after announcing a partnership with a Japanese company for commercial production of its stem cell therapy.

Futures snapshot at 7:03 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 8 points, or 0.04 percent, with 13,492 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.75 points, or 0.07 percent, with 77,255 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3.25 points, or 0.05 percent, on volume of 14,102 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru)

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