Futures flat ahead of key inflation data

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday ahead of key inflation data that could impact the Federal Reserve's decision on the timing of another interest rate hike this year.

* A Labor Department report is likely to show core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes food and energy, inched up 0.2 percent in August, slightly more than in July.

* Still, the 12-month core CPI is likely to have fallen to 1.6 percent from 1.7 percent. Both consumer prices and personal consumption expenditures, the Fed's preferred inflation measure, remain stuck below its 2-percent target.

* Another report, also due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), is likely to show jobless claims jumped by 2,000 to 300,000 last week.

* In the prior week, claims swelled 62,000 to a two-year high due to a surge in applications after the hurricane in Texas, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a firming jobs market.

* Despite the tightening labor market, inflation remains tame posing a conundrum for the central bank as it contemplates tightening monetary policy further.

* The consumer price inflation data is the last to be released before the Fed's Sept. 19-20 policy meeting, where it is expected to outline a program to start offloading its $4.2 trillion balance sheet.

* Wall Street edged up to a record high on Wednesday as gains in consumer discretionary and energy stocks offset losses in technology heavyweight Apple <AAPL.O>, which fell on concerns of its new iPhone X.

* Shares of Tenet Healthcare <THC.N> jumped 13 percent in premarket trading after Reuters reported the hospital operator was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale.

* Pfizer <PFE.N> rose 1.40 percent after the company and Astellas Pharma <4503.T> said their prostate cancer drug met the main goal in a late-stage trial.

* Hertz Global <HTZ.N> dropped 4.7 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the car rental company's stock.

Futures snapshot at 7:02 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were down 5 points, or 0.02 percent, with 4,312 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were down 1 points, or 0.04 percent, with 40,685 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were down 5.75 points, or 0.1 percent, on volume of 3,737 contracts.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

09/14/2017 7:41

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