February 23, 2017 / 12:38 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors assess Fed minutes

* Futures up: Dow 13 pts, S&P 1 pt, Nasdaq 2.25 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Feb 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors digested the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting, which pointed to an interest rate hike “fairly soon”.

* Still, policymakers did not appear to show a sense of urgency in raising rates as inflation remained below the long-term target of 2 percent, effectively taking a rate hike in March off the table.

* Traders have priced in a mere 22 percent chance of a move next month, with the odds jumping to 52 percent for a hike in May and 70 percent for June, according to Thomson Reuters data.

* Fed members also expressed concerns about the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s policies, such as tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, and the effect they could have on the economy.

* Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that tax reforms were the government’s top priority and that he wanted to get the reform done by the August recess.

* Earnings and headline news have boosted the so-called “Trump trade” in the past few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average marked its ninth straight record close on Wednesday, helped by gains in DuPont.

* Oil prices rose 1.4 percent on Thursday reports of a drop in U.S. inventories.

* Among data that could draw attention is jobless claims numbers, which are estimated to have risen slightly last week. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT).

* Shares of Tesla rose 2 percent to $279.20 in premarket trading after the electric car maker posted a smaller quarterly net loss and said its mass-market Model 3 sedan was on track for volume production by September.

* L Brands dropped nearly 13 percent to $50.61 after reporting weakening demand at its Victoria’s Secret business. Kohl’s rose 3.16 percent to $43.10 after the department store operator’s profit beat expectations.

* Nvidia slipped 4.4 percent to $105.88 after Instinet downgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “reduce” from “buy”.

Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 13 points, or 0.06 percent, with 14,667 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 1 point, or 0.04 percent, with 71,185 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 2.25 points, or 0.04 percent, on volume of 14,803 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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