June 14, 2018 / 11:29 AM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat ahead of ECB decision

* Futures: Dow 7 pts, S&P up 1.25 pts, Nasdaq down 4.5 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

June 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday after the Federal Reserve projected a slightly faster pace of interest rate hikes, with focus also on the European Central Bank, which is expected to wind down its 2.55 trillion euro stimulus program.

The Fed raised its benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points for the second time this year on Wednesday and hinted at two more hikes by the end of 2018.

Traders are pricing in a 50 percent chance that the Fed will raise rates for a fourth time this year in December, according to the CME group’s Fedwatch tool.

The S&P 500 ended 0.4 percent lower on Wednesday as investors assessed the impact of tighter monetary policy on equities.

The ECB will debate whether to end its huge asset purchases by the year end, in what would be its biggest step towards dismantling crisis-era stimulus. Any changes should appear in the ECB policy statement at 7:45 a.m. ET.

At 7:10 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 7 points, or 0.03 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 4.5 points, or 0.06 percent.

Trade tensions also simmered, with President Donald Trump due to unveil tariffs targeting $50 billion of Chinese goods on Friday. An official said Trump would meet with his top trade advisers on Thursday to decide whether to activate threatened tariffs.

Data on U.S. retail sales is expected to show a 0.4 percent rise in May from a revised reading of 0.2 percent in April. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Among stocks, Oracle dropped 2.3 percent in premarket trading after Nomura cut price target on the business software maker’s stock.

Comcast offered $65 billion to lure Twenty-First Century Fox away from a merger with Walt Disney with a 20 percent higher offer, setting up a bidding war between two of the largest U.S. media companies.

Fox shares dropped 0.4 percent, while Disney and Comcast shares were unchanged.

Tailored Brands tumbled 18.1 percent after the tuxedo maker’s quarterly same-store sales missed estimates. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru)

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