* Futures up: Dow 21 pts, S&P 5.75 pts, Nasdaq 7.75 pts
By Tanya Agrawal
March 23 U.S. stock index futures were modestly
higher on Thursday as investors turned their attention to
President Donald Trump's first significant policy test, as he
looks to gets a healthcare bill passed in Congress.
* Trump and Republican lawmakers pushed on Wednesday for
votes for their plan to overhaul Obamacare and said they were
making progress in their efforts to win over conservative
members of the party who have demanded changes to the
* With a vote on the bill possible as soon as Thursday,
losing or delaying it would bruise investors' confidence in
Trump's ability to deliver on his promises of tax cuts and
* The S&P 500 has gained 10 percent since the election,
spurred mainly by Trump's campaign promises to enact legislation
that are seen as pro-business, but high valuations of stocks
remain a concern.
* The benchmark index is trading at about 18 times expected
forward earnings, compared with a 10-year average of 14,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
* Wall Street ended mixed after a choppy session on
Wednesday as investors focused on the fate of the healthcare
bill and snapped up stocks after a steep drop the day before.
* Investors will also keep an eye on a speech by Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues regarding the path of
future interest rate hikes. Yellen is due to speak at a
conference at 8:45 a.m. ET (1245 GMT).
* Minneapolis Fed Chief Neel Kashkari and Dallas Fed
President Robert Kaplan are also due to make appearances later
in the day.
* The U.S. central bank raised rates by 25 basis points last
week and reiterated that it would raise rates twice more this
year, fewer than the three hikes expected by the market.
* Economic data due on Thursday includes weekly jobless
claims at 8: 30 a.m. ET and new home sales number for February
at 10 a.m. ET.
* Oil prices climbed off four-month lows but the recovery
was cautious with investors fretting that OPEC-led supply cuts
were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.
* Among stocks, Five Below rose 8.7 percent to
$41.44 in premarket trading after the retailer's quarterly
earnings beat estimates.
* PVH was up 7.1 percent at $97.31 after the branded
apparel maker's full-year profit forecast came above
Futures snapshot at 7:05 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.1 percent,
with 18,960 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.25
percent, with 106,455 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.14
percent, on volume of 17,534 contracts.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil