August 30, 2017 / 11:42 AM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as N. Korea concerns ease; data in focus

* Futures: Dow up 18 pts, S&P down 0.25 pts, Nasdaq up 5 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Aug 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors’ jitters over North Korea’s latest missile test eased and focus shifted to a clutch of economic data.

* Uncertainty sparked by the missile test wiped out more than 100 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the open on Tuesday, but all three major indexes ended higher.

* U.S. President Donald Trump warned that all options are on the table in response to North Korea’s missile test over Japan.

* However, investors were relieved that tensions did not escalate as Trump focused on the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Harvey - the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in 50 years - that has killed at least 17 people.

* Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more rain after a record downpour that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city of Houston.

* Energy stocks are likely to be on watch as crude oil slid after Harvey shut nearly a fifth of U.S. refineries. Shares of insurers are expected to take a hit on uncertainty over their storm-related liabilities.

* Among news from Washington, Trump will make his first speech specifically on tax policy. The speech, officials said, would be about “why” reforming the tax code was needed, not about “how” to reform it.

* Investors will turn their attention towards a raft of economic data including a report on private employment. The data is expected to show an increase of 185,000 jobs in August, after an addition of 178,000 jobs in July. The report is expected at 08:15 a.m. ET (1215 GMT).

* The report comes ahead of the more comprehensive government payrolls data for August on Friday.

* Another report from the Commerce Department’s second estimate of second-quarter GDP is likely to come in at 2.7 percent, instead of the 2.6 percent pace estimated earlier.

* The department forecast a 0.9 percent rise in the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index excluding food and energy in the second quarter. Both the reports are expected to be issued at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell, a permanent voting member on the Fed’s rate-setting committee, is scheduled to make an appearance at 9:15 a.m. ET.

* Among stocks, U.S.-listed shares of Mazor Robotics rose 5.9 percent premarket after Medtronic agreed to make a third tranche investment.

* Shares of Bank of America were up 0.60 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway became the largest shareholder by exercising its right to acquire 700 million shares at a steep discount.

Futures snapshot at 7:35 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.08 percent, with 20,459 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 126,363 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.09 percent, on volume of 30,585 contracts.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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