* Weekly jobless claims rise less than expected
* August durable orders falls 2 pct, in line with estimates
* Caterpillar falls after brokerage starts with “sell”
* Investors await Yellen speech at 5 p.m. ET
* Futures down: Dow 126 pts, S&P 18 pts, Nasdaq 46 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal and Abhiram Nandakumar
Sept 24 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open lower on Thursday amid lingering concerns about global economic growth and ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
U.S. stock futures barely moved after data showed that jobless claims rose less-than-expected last week and durable goods orders in August fell as much as economists had expected.
Investors will look for clues regarding the timing of an interest rate hike when Yellen delivers a speech on inflation, a topic that is key to liftoff and one that has divided policymakers. The speech is at 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT).
The U.S. equity market has been skittish since last Thursday, when the Fed held off from raising rates, as was expected by some. The S&P 500 has fallen 2.8 percent since then.
“There is some apprehension ahead of Yellen’s speech,” said Scott Colyer, chief executive officer of Advisors Asset Management in Monument, Colorado.
“The lack of visibility regarding earnings growth is problematic right now and you’re going to see this back and forth till we get a clearer picture of economic recovery.”
The earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 3.9 percent in the third quarter from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data shows.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 17.5 points, or 0.91 percent, with 313,580 contracts traded at 8:37 a.m. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 46.25 points, or 1.08 percent, on volume of 61,234 contracts. Dow e-minis were down 156 points, or 0.96 percent, with 51,067 contracts changing hands.
U.S. stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday, as weak factory data from China and the United States led to a selloff in materials and industrial stocks.
Seeking to warm bilateral ties and project a sunny climate for U.S. business, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Wednesday to cut restrictions on foreign investment.
Shares of Caterpillar fell 2.8 percent to $68.25 after Axiom Capital started coverage with a “sell” rating, according to Streetinsider.com.
Accenture was down 4.5 percent at $93.50 after the consulting and outsourcing services provider forecast first-quarter revenue below expectations.
A report on new single-family home sales at 10:00 a.m. is expected to show a 1.6 percent increase in August, slower than a 5.4 percent jump in July.
Nike and Bed Bath & Beyond are expected to report quarterly results after the market closes. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)