April 4, 2016 / 11:22 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures inch higher as investors await data

* Futures up: Dow 25 pts, S&P 4.75 pts, Nasdaq 9.50 pts

By Abhiram Nandakumar

April 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Monday as investors awaited fresh economic data and looked for catalysts that could prop up the market.

* Reports last week indicating strength in the U.S. labor market and a recovery in the manufacturing sector did little to change expectations for interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve in 2016.

* Traders expect only one hike this year, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen last week urged caution on raising rates.

* Yellen’s comments contrast those of some policymakers who have called for a more aggressive plan to normalize rates.

* Investors will parse comments by Fed officials slated to speak on Monday, including Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, for clues on the central bank’s thinking on monetary policy.

* Lower crude prices added to the uncertainty as hopes of top oil producers reaching a deal to help tackle a stubborn global glut faded.

* A seven-week rally helped Wall Street recover from a steep selloff at the start of the year caused by slump in oil prices and worries about a global slowdown. The S&P 500 is up marginally for the year.

* Data on Monday is expected to show factory orders fell 1.7 percent in February, after rising 1.6 percent the previous month. The report is due at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).

* Shares of Virgin America surged 36 percent to $52.75 in premarket trading, after the company agreed to be bought by Alaska Air for about $2.60 billion. Alaska Air shares were down 2.5 percent at $79.94.

* Tesla rose 4.8 percent to $248.99 after the electric carmaker said orders for its new Model 3 sedan rose than 253,000 in the first 36 hours.

* Edwards Lifesciences rose 7.9 percent to $89.92 after a study showed a less-invasive implant of a heart valve was superior to open surgery, prompting a slew of brokerages to raise their ratings on the stock.

Futures snapshot at 6:52 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 25 points, or 0.14 percent, with 31,245 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.75 points, or 0.23 percent, with 188,742 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9.5 points, or 0.21 percent, on volume of 21,872 contracts. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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