* Futures up: Dow 20 pts, S&P 1.25 pts, Nasdaq 8.25 pts
By Mamidipudi Soumithri and Tanya Agrawal
Sept 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday ahead of a crucial employment report which will give investors a clearer picture of the timing of the next interest rate hike.
* The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report is likely to show that the economy added about 180,000 jobs in August. The unemployment rate is expected to have fallen one-tenth of a percent to 4.8 percent. The report is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).
* An especially strong reading from the report could support the case for hiking interest rates when the central bank’s policy-making body meets on Sept. 20-21, analysts said.
* “Anything above 200,000 will put the Federal Reserve into a bit of a corner,” said Ana Thaker, Market Economist at PhillipCapital UK. “It may have to discount the weaker manufacturing numbers from Thursday, and think about raising rates this month.”
* Rate hike probabilities for both the September and December meetings have risen after last Friday’s remarks by Fed Chair Janet Yellen that the case for raising rates had strengthened in recent months.
* The odds of a rate hike in September stood at 24 percent, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool. The measure rose to 53.6 percent for December.
* U.S. stocks were flat at the close on Thursday, with gains in the tech sector offseting sluggish factory activity data and lower oil prices.
* Oil prices were up about 1 percent, supported by the previous session’s weakness in the dollar and Russian comments in favor of a production freeze.
* Lululemon Athletica shares were down 8.5 percent at $70.12 in premarket trading after the Canadian yoga wear retailer reported comparable sales growth that fell short of expectations.
* Smith & Wesson Holding were up 2.3 percent at $30.25, a day after the gun seller raised its full-year revenue guidance.
* Ambarella was down 3.8 percent at $69.02 after the video processing chip maker reported a fall in quarterly sales.
Futures snapshot at 6:52 a.m. ET:
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.06 percent, with 113,148 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.25 points, or 0.17 percent, on volume of 14,402 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were up 20 points, or 0.11 percent, with 13,041 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Don Sebastian)