September 22, 2016 / 11:22 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures rise after Fed leaves interest rates unchanged

* Futures up: Dow 54 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 16 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Sept 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve stood pat on interest rates in a widely expected outcome.

* The central bank said economic conditions were improving, but the recent slack in the labor market and inflation running below its 2 percent target gave it reasons not to pull the trigger this time.

* The Fed slowed the pace of future hikes and cut its longer run interest rate forecast to 2.9 percent from 3 percent, but sent a strong signal for a move by the end of this year.

* The dollar index declined 0.4 percent on Thursday, and was on track to mark the second straight day of losses after the central bank’s decision.

* Wall Street rallied on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq closing at a record high as the rate decision whetted investor appetite for equities.

* Overall consensus among economists is for a hike in December, when traders see a 58.4 percent chance of a hike, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

* The market will now shift its attention to economic data, including Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report, to assess when the Fed could make its next adjustment to rates. Jobs claims last week rose by 2,000 to 262,000, a report at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) is likely to show.

* A report from the National Association of Realtors is expected to show existing home sales rose to a 5.45 million-unit rate in August from a 5.39 million-unit pace in July. The data is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

* Shares of Apple rose 0.44 percent premarket after Nomura and RBC raised price targets.

* Jabil Circuit fell 4.8 percent to $22.60 after the contract electronics maker said it intends to realign its business at a cost of $195 million over two years.

* Red Hat rose 6.7 percent to $82.27 in light trading after the Linux operating system distributor reported second-quarter revenue and profit that beat market expectations.

Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 54 points, or 0.3 percent, with 18,042 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.28 percent, with 123,746 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 16 points, or 0.33 percent, on volume of 17,323 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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