August 19, 2016 / 11:37 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures dip; earnings season ends, rate hike timing in focus

* Futures down: Dow 45 pts, S&P 5.25 pts, Nasdaq 11.75 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

Aug 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were lower on Friday after a week of choppy trading as the corporate earnings season winds down and investors again focus on the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate hike.

* Investors were also cagey ahead of next week’s annual meeting of central bankers from around the world in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in which Fed Chair Janet Yellen is likely to cement expectations for a slow pace of rate increases.

** Recent hawkish comments from two Fed officials have clashed with the central bank’s position that more data is needed before interest rates can rise, according to the minutes of the Fed’s July meeting released this week.

* The benchmark S&P 500 index is up 7 percent this year. Its recent run to record highs has been partly supported by expectations that the Fed will continue to keep rates low, as well as some upbeat earnings and economic news.

* The S&P 500 has ended higher for six out of the last eight weeks, while the Nasdaq is on track for its eight weekly rise.

* Brent crude oil prices fell on Friday after hitting an eight-week high, as weak fundamentals countered a lift in sentiment over talks next month on a possible output freeze.

* Applied Materials was up 5.3 percent at $29.14 in premarket trading after the chip equipment maker current-quarter revenue and profit forecasts topped analysts’ estimates.

* Gap was down 5 percent at $24.58 as the retailer’s full-year profit forecast missed analysts’ estimates due to its struggles to attract shoppers to its Banana Republic stores.

* Estee Lauder was up 1.5 percent at $96.50 as the cosmetics maker reported a 4.8 percent rise in quarterly sales.

* Deere was up 2 percent at $78.50 after the farming machinery maker posted its quarterly results.

Futures snapshot at 7:07 a.m. ET (1107 GMT):

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.25 points, or 0.24 percent, with 114,038 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 11.75 points, or 0.24 percent, on volume of 16,313 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were down 45 points, or 0.24 percent, with 16,439 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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