October 20, 2017 / 11:40 AM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Futures up after Senate clears a hurdle to tax cuts

* Futures up: Dow 84 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 11.75 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday after the Senate cleared a budget blueprint, taking the Trump administration a step closer to fulfilling its promise of lowering taxes to stimulate growth.

* The Republican-controlled Senate approved by a 51-to-49 vote the measure in a pursuit to legislate the tax-cut package without Democratic support.

* Hopes of tax cuts have been fueling stock market rally, as corporates expect the move to lift economic growth and inflation.

* Third-quarter earnings season gets under way, with 73 percent of the 74 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far beating expectations.

* General Electric slipped nearly 5 percent after the company reported a profit miss in “a very challenging quarter” and cut full-year profit forecast.

* On Thursday, the Dow and S&P 500 turned higher to close at record levels after a Politico report said that Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell is the leading candidate for Fed chair.

* A decision in favor of Powell would likely be a continuation of the current stock market-friendly monetary policy.

* Investors are keen to know who Trump will pick as the nominee. Trump has concluded interviews with the five candidates he is considering for the post and could announce a decision as early as next week, Reuters reported.

* Yellen is scheduled to speak on the subject, “Monetary Policy Since the Financial Crisis”, later in the day.

* The Fed is in the middle of a broad debate about inflation, and any comments that could shape expectations for a December rate increase will be watched for.

* A National Association of Realtors report due to at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) is likely to show a fall in September existing home sales.

* Other early stock movers include Skechers USA, which jumped 22.76 percent after reporting better-than-expected profit, largely helped by international sales growth.

* Celgene dipped 6.33 percent after the company said it would abandon testing a drug to treat Crohn’s disease.

* PayPal rose about 4 percent following the payment company’s upbeat earnings and forecast.

Futures snapshot at 7:02 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 84 points, or 0.36 percent, with 29,916 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.2 percent, with 182,749 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 11.75 points, or 0.19 percent, on volume of 35,849 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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