October 13, 2017 / 11:18 AM / in 9 months

US STOCKS-Futures edge up, eyes on banks and inflation

* Futures up: Dow 18 pts, S&P 1.75 pts, Nasdaq 4.75 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to slight gains at opening on Friday, as the second day of major bank third quarter earnings releases showed profits at Bank of America rising 15 percent.

* Shares in the United States’ second largest bank rose 0.9 percent in premarket trading after it published its report just before 7 a.m. in New York. The lender kept a tight leash on costs in the third quarter and benefited from higher official interest rates.

* Wells Fargo will report later in the day.

* Third-quarter earnings season kicked off on Thursday with tepid reactions to earnings from JPMorgan and Citigroup after both lenders said they had set aside more money for credit card lending losses in the third quarter, even as they reported results that topped analyst estimates.

* Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to have grown 4.4 percent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. S&P 500 companies posted double-digit profit gains in both the first and second quarters.

* With the S&P 500 up about 14 percent so far in 2017, investors are hoping earnings growth can help justify valuations.

* U.S. inflation data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* While analysts have warned the data would be muddied by a violent hurricane season, policymakers and investors will scrutinize the data for signs on the odds of a December interest rate raise by the Federal Reserve.

* The data is expected to show consumer prices rose 0.6 percent in September compared to 0.4 percent in August, helped by a jump in gasoline prices in the aftermath of the storms.

* Another report from the Commerce Department is forecast to say retail sales surged 1.7 percent in September after falling 0.2 percent in August.

* A host of Fed speakers including Boston President Eric Rosengren, Chicago Chief Charles Evans and their Dallas counterpart, Robert Kaplan, are expected to make appearances later in the day.

* The speeches come as the latest minutes showed policymakers are still divided on their views on inflation.

* Debate is also intensifying over who President Donald Trump will nominate as Fed chief when Janet Yellen’s current term comes to an end in February.

* White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Thursday Trump is “some time away” from a decision, while another official said Trump had met with Stanford University economist John Taylor to discuss the job.

* Oil rose more than 2 percent on Friday as strong Chinese oil import data and turmoil in the Middle East boosted bulls in a market that has already shown signs of rebalancing after years of excess.

* Among stocks, Nvidia gained more than 1 percent in premarket trading after brokerage Needham raised its price target by $50 to $250.

Futures snapshot at 6:59 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.08 percent, with 12,089 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.75 points, or 0.07 percent, with 74,042 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 4.75 points, or 0.08 percent, on volume of 12,777 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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