February 27, 2018 / 2:10 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open lower after Powell's remarks

* Macy’s jumps after reporting upbeat Q4 same-store sales

* Comcast offers to buy Sky for $31 bln

* Futures down: Dow 32 pts, S&P 4.5 pts, Nasdaq 6 pts (Adds comment, details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open for Wall Street on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted the central bank would stick to its current path of gradual rate hikes as inflation remains below its 2-percent target.

Fed policymakers anticipate three rate increases this year, and Powell gave no indication in prepared remarks to the House Financial Services Committee that the pace needs to quicken even as the “tailwinds” of government stimulus and a stronger world economy propel the U.S. recovery.

At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 32 points. S&P 500 e-minis fell 4.5 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis lost 6 points.

“Pretty much the market is going to be fluttering back and forth in both directions based on things he says today, so it doesn’t surprise me too much” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“It’s his first speech, the market is already in a higher volatility phase.”

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yields edged higher to 2.8788 percent, but were still off their four-year peak of 2.957 percent touched on Feb. 21.

He later faces questions from both houses of the U.S. Congress in a semi-annual testimony later in the day.

Powell’s testimony comes at a sensitive time for the markets, which have swayed wildly in recent weeks on inflation fears.

“Certainly expectation as far as his term goes, should be relatively similar to Yellen,” said Myles Clouston, senior director at Nasdaq Advisory Services

“Although given the health of the economy and where things are going and the fact that inflation has been on the uptick, he may come across as a little more hawkish.”

Stocks have recovered much of their losses from the early February sell-off, when they shed more than 10 percent.

The Nasdaq is just 1.12 percent below its record high hit a month ago, while the S&P and the Dow are trading 3.2 percent and 3.4 percent below their life highs, respectively.

In a big week for retail earnings, Macy’s reported higher-than-expected same-store sales growth for the fourth quarter. Its shares jumped 9 percent in premarket trading.

Comcast fell 2.4 percent after the U.S. cable operator made an unsolicited bid of $31 billion for Sky . Sky’s London-listed shares jumped 22 percent.

Fitbit slumped 13 percent after the wearable device maker forecast current-quarter results below estimates.

Luxury builder Toll Brothers’ shares rose 2.7 percent after it reported quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates as it sold more homes at higher prices. (Additional reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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