U.S. stock futures higher; all eyes on healthcare vote

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[March 24, 2017]  By Tanya Agrawal

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday, helped by higher oil prices, and ahead of a closely watched vote on a healthcare bill seen as a test of President Donald Trump's ability to pass his legislative agenda through Congress.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

It was not clear late on Thursday evening that Trump and Republican leaders had enough support to pass the bill, with Trump warning lawmakers from his party that he will leave Obamacare in place if they do not rally around him.

Investors fear that if Trump fails to get the bill through the Republican-controlled Congress, it would mean his pro-growth agenda of tax reform, infrastructure spending and capital repatriation will face setbacks.

Those fears pushed Wall Street on Tuesday to its worst one-day loss since before the U.S. presidential election. All three major indexes are on track to post their first monthly declines since October.

The CBOE Volatility index <.VIX>, Wall Street's "fear gauge", closed at its highest level since Jan. 19 on Thursday.

The S&P has risen about 10 percent since Trump's election as U.S. president.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and St. Louis Fed Chief James Bullard are scheduled to make appearances later this morning and their comments will be closely watched for clues on the future path of interest rate hikes. The U.S. central bank raised rates by 25 basis points last week.

Economic data expected on Friday includes durable goods orders for February that is expected to dip to 1.2 percent from a 2.0 percent rise in the previous month. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Markit is scheduled to release its PMI numbers for March at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Shares of Micron Technology <MU.O> jumped 11.9 percent to $29.61 in premarket trading, a day after the chipmaker's current-quarter revenue and profit forecast beat expectations.

Twitter <TWTR.N> was up 1.1 percent at $15.10 after the company said it is considering whether to build a premium version of its popular Tweetdeck interface aimed at professionals.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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