* Futures higher: Dow 54 pts, S&P 4.5 pts, Nasdaq 11.5 pts
By Sruthi Shankar
Sept 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Friday as investors await the August nonfarm payrolls report, which is likely to feed into the Federal Reserve’s decision for an interest rate hike later this year.
* The economy likely added 180,000 jobs in August after adding 209,000 jobs in the previous month, but the pace of increase should suffice for the Fed to start unwinding its massive bond portfolio, but tepid wage growth could leave a December interest rate hike in doubt.
* The unemployment rate is forecast to remain unchanged at 4.3 percent, while the average hourly earnings is expected to increase 0.2 percent after rising 0.3 percent in July. The Labor Department’s report is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).
* A sluggish wage growth, coupled with data from Thursday that showed annual inflation in July advanced at its slowest pace in more than 1-1/2 years, could force the Fed to hold back from raising rates once more this year.
* U.S. financial markets are pricing in a roughly 41 percent probability of a rate hike at the Fed’s December meeting according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
* Wall Street closed higher on Thursday as investors reacted to economic data and took cautious hope from Washington’s latest promises for long-awaited details of a tax reform plan.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that President Donald Trump’s administration has a detailed plan on tax reform and is on track to implement it by year-end.
* Trading volumes are expected to remain low ahead of the Labor Day weekend.
* Oil prices fell in the wake of Harvey, which has killed more than 40 people and brought record flooding to the oil heartland of Texas, paralyzing a quarter of the U.S. refining industry.
* The Institute for Supply Management will likely report that its national manufacturing index increased to a reading of 56.5 in August from 56.3 in July.
* Shares of Palo Alto Networks jumped 7.4 percent in premarket trading after the cybersecurity firm reported profit and revenue above expectations.
* Ambarella was down 8.9 percent after the video processing chip maker reported better-than-expected profit and revenue.
* Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker Lululemon Athletica rose 5.8 percent on earnings beat.
Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 54 points, or 0.25 percent, with 13,480 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.5 points, or 0.18 percent, with 93,150 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 11.5 points, or 0.19 percent, on volume of 21,132 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)