February 23, 2018 / 2:09 PM / 23 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street to open higher as bond yields retreat

* Yields on 10-year Treasury notes down for second day

* General Mills to buy Blue Buffalo for $8 bln

* Hewlett Packard Enterprises set to open at record high

* Futures up: Dow 106 pt, S&P 9.75 pt, Nasdaq 38.5 pt (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 23 (Reuters) - Wall Street was on track to open higher on Friday as bond yields retreated for the second straight day, with investors also focusing on speeches by Federal Reserve officials for their views on interest rates.

Equity markets came under pressure on Wednesday after minutes of the central bank’s last meeting showed policymakers grew more confident in the need to keep raising rates.

U.S. Treasury 10-year note yields also climbed to a more than four-year high following the release of the minutes.

However, fears of more rates hikes were allayed on Thursday following comments by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who expressed concerns that a “bunch of hikes” this year could turn Fed policy restrictive.

The focus is now on New York Fed President William Dudley, Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Meister and their San Francisco counterpart, John Williams, who will be speaking later in the day. All three are members of the rate-setting committee this year.

“Right now, people may be paying more attention (to Fed speakers) than they have in the past and that’s because Janet Yellen has left and Jerome Powell is in charge,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

“The question is will the other members have a greater influence on the new leader versus what they had in the past.”

Market participants are largely expecting the Fed to raise rates three times this year, beginning with its next meeting in March.

By 8:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis had gained 106 points. S&P 500 e-minis were up 9.75 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose 38.5 points.

Shares of Blue Buffalo Pet Products jumped 17 percent in premarket trading after General Mills said it would buy the natural pet food maker for $8 billion in cash. General Mills shares fell about 4 percent.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise shares rose about 12.8 percent and were set to open at a record high after the company reported upbeat quarterly results and announcing a plan to return $7 billion to shareholders by the end of fiscal 2019. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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