September 26, 2018 / 1:03 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher ahead of expected rate hike

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* Bank stocks edge higher ahead of expected rate hike

* Fed policy statement due at 2 p.m. ET

* Nike falls as margins, forecast disappoint

* IBM gains on UBS upgrade to “buy”

* Futures up: Dow 0.09 pct, S&P 0.14 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open slightly higher on Wednesday as bank stocks gained ahead of a widely expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike, with investors focusing on the central bank’s steer on the pace of monetary tightening.

Shares of JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo , Bank of America and M&T Bank were up between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent in trading before the bell.

With a third rate hike all but certain, and chances of a fourth increase in December firming after robust consumer confidence data on Tuesday, investors are focused on whether healthy economic growth will prompt the Fed to ramp up the pace of monetary policy tightening.

Some analysts are expecting a more aggressive tilt, whether it comes in the policy statement at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), the accompanying economic and interest rate projections, or at Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference.

“The market likes to be unchanged going into the Fed decision just so it doesn’t have a view in either direction and be ready,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“The theme of today is going to be what the Fed’s forward guidance looks like ... which is important to participants so they can gauge where the yield curve will go or how they think the Fed will let the economy run.”

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields are a shade below their seven-year peak. Higher bonds yields makes shares less attractive, especially those of high-dividend paying companies such as utilities, real estimate and telecoms.

At 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 25 points, or 0.09 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.14 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 14.25 points, or 0.19 percent.

Dow component Nike’s shares fell 2.7 percent after the company posted a small rise in quarterly gross margins and left its 2019 forecast unchanged.

IBM rose 1.7 percent after UBS upgraded the stock to “buy”, saying it expects the company’s revenue to fare better than expected.

AT&T, Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon.com , Twitter and Charter Communications are among the six major internet companies that will detail their consumer data privacy practices to a U.S. Senate panel. Their shares were trading between flat and up 0.32 percent.

Homebuilders D.R. Horton, Pultegroup and Toll Brothers gained ahead of data at 10 a.m. ET that is likely to show new home sales rose 0.5 percent in August. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)

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