* Consumer spending up 0.2 percent in Jan
* Core PCE price index up 0.2 pct vs est 0.3 pct
* Steel stocks jump ahead of potential White House announcement
* Futures down: Dow 50 pts, S&P 1.75 pts, Nasdaq 2.25 pts (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)
By Sruthi Shankar
March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures gave up losses and were largely flat on Thursday after data showed consumer spending in January notched its smallest increase in five months and core inflation rose less than expected.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, gained 0.2 percent in January, while core PCE price index, the Federal Reserve’s favored gauge on inflation, rose 0.2 percent compared with economists’ expectation of a 0.3 percent rise.
Rising inflation and bond yields were the main concerns as Wall Street ended a turbulent month on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 down for the first time in 11 months.
Investors are still jittery as they await Fed chair Jerome Powell’s second round of congressional testimony, due at 10:00 a.m. ET. Analysts and traders have cautioned that much of the turbulence this week may stem from market positioning as much as a substantial change of tack by Powell.
Powell’s first appearance in Congress on Tuesday did little to cool market fears that his arrival at the Fed could see it deliver more U.S. rate rises than previously expected this year.
“The market is making an early bet that there will be some hawkish statement that is going to create some jitters,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
At 8:47 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 50 points, S&P 500 e-minis lost 1.75 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis sipped 2.25 points.
The CBOE Volatility index, the measure of short-term stock market volatility on Wall Street, was last at 20.90 - its highest in a week.
In a big week for retail earnings, Kohl’s Corp reported fourth-quarter comparable sales growth that was a shade above analysts’ estimate and provided an upbeat 2018 earnings outlook. The department store operator’s shares rose 2.5 percent in premarket trading.
Best Buy jumped around 5 percent after it reported strong same-store sales for the fourth quarter, recovering from falls overnight due to the U.S. consumer electronics retailer’s announcement of 250 small mobile phone store closures.
AK Steel, US Steel Corp and Nucor gained on signs of a possible major trade announcement by President Donald Trump, who has been considering imposing hefty tariffs on imports of the metals from China and other countries. (Additional reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)