November 18, 2016 / 12:37 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures little changed; S&P, Dow near record-high

* Futures down: Dow 12 pts, S&P 2.25 pts, Nasdaq 0.75 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

Nov 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, with the S&P and Dow close to their record highs, a day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sent a strong signal that interest rates would be increased next month.

* The Fed could raise rates “relatively soon”, Yellen said in a congressional testimony on Thursday, adding that she would serve out her term.

* Traders are pricing in an 83 percent chance of a December move, according to Thomson Reuters data.

* The S&P 500 index rose to within a hair of its record high on Thursday as bank stocks got a boost from bets on higher rates and consumer discretionary stocks were helped by economic data and earnings.

* All three major indexes were on track to end the week higher.

* St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is leaning towards supporting an interest rate increase in December and argued on Friday that the real question now is the Fed’s rate path in 2017.

* U.S. stocks had been on a tear since Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. presidential election last week as his proposals to increase infrastructure spending and reduce taxes are seen benefiting the economy.

* The rally took a breather this week as investors seek more clarity regarding Trump’s policies and his campaign promises.

* Investors will also keep an eye on comments from a host of Fed speakers scheduled to make appearances on Friday including Kansas City Fed President Esther George and New York Fed head William Dudley.

* Brent crude oil prices were headed for their first weekly gain in five on Friday buoyed by renewed hopes that OPEC might agree to production cuts, but a stronger U.S. dollar capped gains.

* The dollar powered to its highest levels since 2003 against a basket of currencies.

* Gap fell 8.6 percent to $28.05 in premarket trading after the apparel chain said it would shut more stores than forecast previously and that it expected a further drop in traffic during the crucial holiday shopping season.

* rose 6.2 percent to $79.87, a day after it forecast current-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates.

* SolarCity was up 2.8 percent at $20.97 after Tesla CEO Elon Musk won approval from the electric luxury automaker’s shareholders for an acquisition of the solar energy system installer in which he is the largest shareholder. Tesla edged up 0.7 percent to $189.90.

Futures snapshot at 7:04 a.m. ET (1204 GMT):

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.1 percent, with 118,555 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.02 percent, on volume of 19,036 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were down 12 points, or 0.06 percent, with 20,189 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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