* Futures up: Dow 77 pts, S&P 8.75 pts, Nasdaq 16.75 pts
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Sept 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Monday as investors expect the Federal Reserve to maintain interest rates at its policy meeting this week.
* The central bank’s two-day meeting starts on Tuesday in which policymakers will debate over the U.S. economy and its ability to absorb a rate hike.
* Recent lackluster data, including a slowdown in monthly jobs growth, reflected pockets of weakness in the economy, prompting investors to virtually price out a hike in the coming days.
* However, investors expect Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s comments to signal a potential move in December.
* The probability of a December move shot up to 70 percent in the past moth from 57.5 percent in the previous month, according to a Reuters poll of over 100 economists.
* The dollar index fell 0.25 percent on dim prospects of higher rates, partly helping oil prices rise more than 1 percent.
* Investors will also keep an eye on the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
* Wall Street closed lower on Friday, capping a week of market oscillations, as financials were weighed down by the possibility of a $14 billion fine against Deutsche Bank and as investors second-guessed the Fed’s intentions on rates.
* Data expected on Monday includes a report on the U.S. housing market that is likely to show housing starts fell to a 1.19 million-unit rate in August from a 1.21 million-unit pace in the previous month. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).
* Casino operator Isle of Capri jumped nearly 30 percent in premarket trading on Monday after Eldorado Resorts said it would buy the company for $1.7 billion, including debt. Eldorado’s stock was up 8.6 percent.
* Facebook edged 0.72 percent higher at $130 after Citigroup raised its price target.
* U.S. electrical components distributor Avnet was up 12.2 percent at $44 after it announced the sale of its IT business to tech products distributor Tech Data Corp for about $2.6 billion. Tech Data’s stock was untraded.
Futures snapshot at 7:28 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 78 points, or 0.43 percent, with 16,722 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.41 percent, with 115,105 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 15 points, or 0.31 percent, on volume of 22,094 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)