March 30, 2017 / 11:32 AM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures slightly lower ahead of Fed speakers, GDP data

* Futures down: Dow 22 pts, S&P 2.75 pts, Nasdaq 4.75 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Thursday as investors awaited key economic data, including a final reading on fourth-quarter GDP numbers, and speeches by a host of Federal Reserve officials.

* The market has been choppy in the past few days as investors look for new catalysts and ahead of first-quarter corporate earnings.

* Investors have been assessing what the Republicans’ failure to pass a healthcare bill means for tax reform and the rest of President Donald Trump’s pro-growth agenda, hopes for which have helped drive stocks to record highs.

* The stock rally may be near its peak, according to a Reuters poll of strategists, who forecast U.S. shares will gain less than 3 percent between now and year-end. The S&P has risen 10.3 percent since the U.S. election.

* The rapid climb in equities has raised concerns regarding valuations, with the S&P 500 trading at nearly 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months against its long-term average of 15 times.

* The market will be looking at quarterly earnings to see if valuations can be supported. First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 10.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

* The U.S. Commerce Department’s third estimate of fourth-quarter GDP is expected to show that the economy grew at a 2.0 percent pace, instead of the previously reported 1.9 percent. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* Separately, initial jobless claims data for the week ended March 25 is expected to show a drop to 248,000 applications from 261,000 reported the week before.

* Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan, San Francisco Fed head John Williams and New York Fed President William Dudley are all scheduled to make appearances.

* On Wednesday, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he favored further interest rate hikes this year, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said the Fed should raise rates three more times in 2017.

* Shares of Lululemon Athletica fell 18.8 percent to $53.84 in premarket trading after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel retailer said first-quarter comparable sales were expected to fall.

* ConocoPhillips rose 6.4 percent to $48.90 after the company said it agreed to sell oil sands and western Canadian natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy. Cenovus was down 9.8 percent at $11.80.

Futures snapshot at 6:58 a.m. EDT:

* Dow e-minis were down 22 points, or 0.11 percent, with 12,509 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.75 points, or 0.12 percent, with 80,955 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 4.75 points, or 0.09 percent, on volume of 17,611 contracts. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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