September 25, 2018 / 12:58 PM / 23 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St to open higher as energy, bank stocks rise

* Banks stocks gain with Fed expected to hike rates

* Facebook drops as Instagram co-founders resign

* Chevron, Exxon gain as oil prices hit 4-year high

* Intel falls on Raymond James rating cut

* Futures up: Dow 0.24 pct, S&P 0.20 pct, Nasdaq 0.08 pct (Adds details, comments; updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Tuesday, as energy companies gained with oil prices at four-year highs and bank stocks rose in anticipation of a Federal Reserve rate hike.

The U.S. central bank, which starts its two-day meeting later in the day, is widely expected to raise benchmark interest rates for the third time this year on Wednesday.

Shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup rose between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent in premarket trading.

But higher interest rates make corporate borrowing costlier and the Fed's latest move would make cash the most attractive it has been in about a decade, lowering the appeal of stocks, especially dividend paying companies such as utilities and real estate.

"Investors are concerned about the Fed meeting, in a sense that an acceleration of a higher rate cycle would be troubling," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

"They are looking for statements that suggest a stable rate environment as opposed to faster increase in rates."

The Fed's guidance on the path for future rate hikes and its comments on the impact of the escalating trade dispute between the United States and China will also help steer investments.

A day after Wall Street was buffeted by the latest round of Sino-U.S. tariffs, a senior Chinese official said trade talks would be difficult, while Washington is putting "a knife to China's neck."

However, Bakhos said "trade fears seem to have taken a back seat in the headlines and investors are looking at some opportunities to shift back into equities."

Caterpillar and Boeing, which act as proxies for investors' view of the trade situation, were both up 0.7 percent.

At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 64 points, or 0.24 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.2 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.08 percent.

Energy stocks were poised to boost markets for the second session in a row as Brent oil prices shot to a four-year high due to upcoming U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude exports and the apparent reluctance of OPEC and Russia to raise output to offset the potential hit to global supply.

Dow components Chevron and Exxon Mobil rose 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Facebook fell 2.1 percent after co-founders of its photo-sharing app, Instagram, resigned with scant explanation for the move.

Intel fell 0.9 percent after Raymond James downgraded the stock, citing mounting headwinds against the chipmaker.

Michael Kors was up 1.5 percent after the U.S. fashion group agreed to buy Versace for $2 billion including debt.

On the macro front, the U.S. Conference Board is expected to report that its consumer confidence index slipped to 132.0 in September from a reading of 133.4 in August. The report is due at 10 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)

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