March 1, 2019 / 12:50 PM / 22 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures bounce as focus shifts to inflation, factory data

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* Futures up: Dow 0.69 pct, S&P 0.64 pct, Nasdaq 0.75 pct

By Shreyashi Sanyal

March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures bounced on Friday, setting up Wall Street’s main indexes for gains at the open, with investors waiting for data on inflation and manufacturing activity.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen 11 percent since the beginning of the year, bolstered by progress in trade talks and the Federal Reserve’s cautious stance on interest rates.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday that a rise in productivity last year gives more room for wages to grow without the risk of higher inflation, offering the central bank another reason to hold off on further rate hikes.

For further clues on inflation, investors will keep a close watch on the Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge.

The report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, will likely show consumer spending fell 0.2 percent in December, after rising 0.4 percent in November.

At 7:12 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 180 points, or 0.69 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 17.75 points, or 0.64 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 53.5 points, or 0.75 percent.

Also on the list is the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey on U.S. manufacturing activity for February which is expected to have slowed slightly from January.

Earlier, a private survey showed China’s factory activity contracted for a third straight month in February but at a slower pace, helped by improvements in domestic manufacturing.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed slightly lower on Thursday as support from better-than-feared U.S. GDP data was countered by concerns about earnings and U.S.-China trade relations.

Among shares trading premarket, Gap Inc surged 23 percent after the company said it would separate its better-performing Old Navy brand and shutter about 230 stores of its struggling namesake apparel business.

Foot Locker jumped 13.4 percent after the footwear retailer reported quarterly same store sales above analysts’ expectations. Its partner Nike Inc’s shares rose about 1.2 percent.

Tesla Inc fell 3.6 percent after the electric automaker said it would not be profitable in the first quarter. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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