August 24, 2018 / 12:33 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set for higher open with Powell speech in focus

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* Powell's Jackson Hole speech at 10 a.m. ET

* Bank stocks gain slightly premarket

* Autodesk up on strong results

* Gap shares fall as same-store sales miss estimates

* Futures up: Dow 0.19 pct, S&P 0.17 pct, Nasdaq 0.24 pct (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday, as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for clues on the direction of monetary policy.

Powell is set to speak at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conference of central bankers, where he is widely expected to signal more interest rate hikes.

The Fed is expected to raise rates in September and once more by the end of the year. But President Donald Trump earlier this week said he was "not thrilled" by rate increases and has asked the Fed to do more to help him boost the economy.

Economists expect U.S. economic growth to slow steadily in coming quarters after touching a four-year high in April-June due to trade disputes, a Reuters poll showed.

Wall Street has sputtered in the past two days as the United States and China slapped fresh tariffs on each others goods and ended latest negotiations with no major breakthrough.

"I doubt that Powell is going to be taking a big policy stance with his discussion. I'm not expecting much from the speech today," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

"The markets have actually been strengthening overnight due to the fact the dollar has come down quite a bit."

At 8:14 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 48 points, or 0.19 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.17 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 17.5 points, or 0.24 percent.

Banks stocks gained slightly in premarket trading ahead of Powell's speech. Citigroup rose 0.2 percent, JPMorgan Chase & Co 0.1 percent and Bank of America 0.2 percent.

Shares of Autodesk jumped 10.2 percent after the software maker topped revenue and profit estimates, helped by strength in its subscription business.

HP Inc dropped 3.5 percent after the computer and printer maker reported disappointing margins in its printer business.

Gap Inc slumped 8.1 percent after the apparel retailer's namesake brand reported a bigger-than-expected drop in same-store sales.

Ross Stores declined 5.2 percent on concerns about the off-price retailer's operating margins and an unchanged forecast for the rest of the year.

The Commerce Department's seasonally adjusted data on durable goods orders for July is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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