December 15, 2016 / 12:26 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat after Fed sees faster pace of rate hikes

* Futures: Dow up 18 pts, S&P down 0.25 pts, Nasdaq down 3 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

Dec 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates for the first time this year and signaled a faster pace of hikes in 2017.

* The Fed sees three rate hikes in 2017 instead of the two foreseen as of September, partly as a result of the changes anticipated under President-elect Donald Trump.

* Fed Chair Janet Yellen also cited an improving labor market and evidence of faster inflation for its 2017 rate outlook.

* The Fed’s decision to raise rates comes as Trump, who will be sworn in next month, is expected to cut taxes and boost spending on infrastructure.

* Since the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, stocks have rallied on bets that Trump’s expected business friendly policies will stimulate the economy.

* The Dow is about 1 percent away from hitting the 20,000 mark and the S&P has risen 5.3 percent since the election.

* U.S. stocks fell the most in two months on Wednesday after the central bank’s hawkish stance took some investors by surprise and crude oil tumbled.

* Oil prices recovered on Thursday as investors anticipated a tighter market in 2017 due to planned output cuts led by OPEC and Russia.

* The interest rate hike sent the dollar index to a 14-year high, while gold hit its lowest since early February.

* A host of economic data scheduled to be released today includes a report from the U.S. Labor Department, which is expected to show that the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in November after a 0.4 percent gain in October. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT).

* Weekly report on jobless claims is likely to show that number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 255,000 for the week ending Dec. 10.

* Mondelez was up 4.7 percent at $44.85 in premarket trading after reports that Kraft Heinz may buy the Cadbury chocolate maker. Kraft was up 0.8 percent at $85.05.

* Yahoo fell 3.6 percent to $39.44 after the largest security breach in history. The company said data from more than 1 billion accounts was compromised in August 2013.

Futures snapshot at 7:03 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.09 percent, with 5,608 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 70,152 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3 points, or 0.06 percent, on volume of 3,285 contracts. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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