* Dollar index at its weakest since Jan. 2015
* Kroger falls as profit hit by aggressive price cuts
* Equifax sinks after massive data breach
* Futures down: Dow 59 pts, S&P 5.5 pts, Nasdaq 8.75 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Sruthi Shankar
Sept 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks looked set to open lower on Friday as investors assessed the financial impact of hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
Irma was set to hit Florida as early as Saturday, with FEMA warning that parts of Florida could be out of electricity for days, if not longer.
The hurricane, the strongest recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, comes on heels of Harvey, which shut a quarter of U.S. refineries and 8 percent of U.S. oil production.
“(Irma) is going to be very disruptive as it is going through a very populated area. Having two major hurricanes strike in one quarter, it is surely going to show up in the GDP,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Many companies had to adjust their financial expectations in the wake of Harvey’s destruction, while jobless claims spiked to a two-year high last week despite underlying strength in the labor market.
Economists said Harvey could weigh on U.S. economic growth for the third quarter, though they did not expect this to delay the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plan to start trimming its $4.2 trillion debt portfolio this month.
However, traders have sharply reduced the odds for another interest rate hike this year. The chances of a December move are at 26.4 percent, compared with 42 percent a week ago, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
At 8:31 a.m. ET (1231 GMT), Dow e-minis were down 59 points, or 0.27 percent, with 22,000 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.5 points, or 0.22 percent, with 148,123 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 8.75 points, or 0.15 percent, on volume of 25,051 contracts.
Gold prices rose to their highest in more than a year and the dollar index hit its weakest since January 2015 as the broader markets braced for North Korea celebrating its founding on Saturday, and as Irma headed for Florida.
New York Fed President William Dudley on Thursday toned down his hawkish view, saying rates should continue to be raised gradually given that low inflation should rebound.
“If the Fed is really going to be a data-driven organization, half the reason for raising rates is not there,” Forrest said, adding that the likelihood of a December rate hike is decreasing.
Among stocks, Kroger fell 4.92 percent in heavy premarket trading after the biggest U.S. supermarket company reported a drop in profit due to aggressive price cuts.
American Outdoor plunged about 18 percent after the gun maker’s profit and revenue missed estimates.
Equifax sank 13 percent after the provider of consumer credit scores said personal details of as many as 143 million U.S. consumers were hacked. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)