Futures jump on strong earnings; Fed takes center stage

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[November 01, 2017] By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a strong opening for Wall Street on Wednesday, as an upbeat third-quarter earnings season lifted sentiment while investors waited for clues on future rate hikes from the latest Fed meeting.

* The Federal Reserve ends its two-day policy meeting later in the day and will release its statement at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

* The central bank is expected to keep interest rates unchanged as speculation swirls on who will be its next leader, but will likely point to a firming economy as it edges closer to a possible rate rise next month.

* The White House has said President Donald Trump will announce his Fed pick on Thursday. Trump is expected to choose Fed Governor Jerome Powell, who is seen as more stock-market friendly, sources have told Reuters.

* Investors were also keenly watching developments around a U.S. tax-cut plan. Legislation expected on Wednesday has been delayed by a day as lawmakers try to resolve differences.

* October ended on a strong note on Tuesday, with the major Wall Street indexes recording their best monthly gains since February, supported by technology and consumer staple stocks.

* Brent crude futures <LCOc1> jumped 1 percent to $61.58 per barrel, its highest since mid-2015, as data showed OPEC has significantly improved compliance with its pledged supply cuts and Russia is also widely expected to keep to the deal. [O/R]

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Traders work on the floor of the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

* ADP National Employment report due at 8:15 a.m. ET will likely show private employers added 200,000 jobs in October, up from 135,000 in September.

* The data comes ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls report for October. The data will reveal if the labor market has strengthened after a hurricane-ravaged September.

* A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management is likely to show its national manufacturing index slipped to 59.5 in October from 60.8 in September. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

* Among early movers, US Steel jumped 8 percent after reporting better-than-expected profit and sales.

* Facebook was up 1.3 percent ahead of the social media giant's earnings report after market.

* Electronic Arts dipped more than 1 percent after the videogame publisher's revenue forecast for the holiday shopping quarter narrowly missed estimates.

* Estee Lauder gained 1.52 percent after the cosmetics maker's sales beat estimates.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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