October 30, 2017 / 11:22 AM / in a year

US STOCKS-Futures slightly lower as Fed chair decision looms

* Futures down : Dow 43 pts, S&P 5.75 pts, Nasdaq 3 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower opening for Wall Street on Monday as investors held back from making big bets ahead of a decision on the next Federal Reserve head.

* U.S. President Donald Trump is leaning toward nominating Fed Governor Jerome Powell to be the next Fed chair, sources told Reuters.

* The decision is expected this week even as the central bank gathers for its two-day policy meeting, starting Tuesday. The Fed is widely expected to stay put on interest rates at the meeting.

* Nasdaq powered to its best day in nearly a year amid gains across all major indexes, led by a surge in the technology sector.

* With the third-quarter earnings season more than half-way through, nearly 74 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have posted earnings so far have topped profit expectations, compared with 72 percent overall the past four quarters.

* Apple and Facebook are the top companies reporting this week.

* Among economic data, a report on consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, is likely to show it increased 0.8 percent in September, after edging up 0.1 percent in August. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* The investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election will enter a new phase as early as Monday, when the first charges resulting from the probe could be unsealed and a target taken into custody.

* Among stocks, General Motors fell 2 percent in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”.

* Merck dipped 5 percent after the company said it withdrew an application for European use of its Keytruda cancer immunotherapy.

* Advanced Micro Devices slipped 3.55 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “underweight” from “equalweight”.

Futures snapshot at 6:53 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 43 points, or 0.18 percent, with 17,393 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.75 points, or 0.22 percent, with 111,339 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3 points, or 0.05 percent, on volume of 25,633 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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