August 25, 2017 / 1:06 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St to open higher as tax reform back in focus; Yellen speech eyed

* Yellen’s speech to start at 10:00 a.m. ET

* Oil prices higher on Hurricane Harvey

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 6.25 pts, Nasdaq 19.25 pts (Adds details, comments, updates price)

By Sruthi Shankar

Aug 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open higher on Friday on news that President Donald Trump will turn his attention to tax reform next week and after National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said he would stay in the post.

Investors are also awaiting a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for clues on the future path of monetary policy.

Trump will launch a major push on tax reform with a speech in Missouri, Cohn told the Financial Times.

“Starting next week, the president’s agenda and calendar is going to revolve around tax reform,” Cohn said, adding he was “reluctant to leave”, despite pressure to both resign and stay.

Earlier this week, speculation about the departure of Cohn along with the recent unrest in the White House again led to investors’ concerns about the Trump administration’s ability to implement its pro-growth agenda, including on tax reform.

“The thing that has the most momentum for the markets is, we’re finally starting to hear substantive details about what tax reforms is going to look like,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group in Richmond, Virginia.

“All eyes are around Jackson Hole. We’re likely to get some clues about when the U.S. and Europe are going to start winding down their balance sheets.”

While there are slim chances of any policy announcements, any clarity on the timing of the Fed’s unwinding of its massive bond holdings and the possibility of a third interest rate hike this year will be welcomed by investors.

While inflation remains stuck below the central bank’s 2-percent target, a low unemployment rate and bond yields could still argue the case for another hike. The chances of a December move is at 42.2 percent, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 42 points, or 0.19 percent, with 21,042 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.26 percent, with 154,620 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 19.25 points, or 0.33 percent, on volume of 38,961 contracts.

Energy stocks will be in focus as the industry braces for Hurricane Harvey, which may become the biggest storm to hit the U.S. mainland in more than a decade. U.S. crude oil was up about 0.5 percent.

Shares of Autodesk were up about 4.87 percent in premarket trading after the software maker reported a smaller-than-expected loss and raised its forecast.

Ulta Beauty sank 7 percent to $216.70 after the retailer’s comparable sales and profit forecast missed estimates.

Twitter lost more than 1 percent after Jefferies downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy.” (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)

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