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US STOCKS-Futures up on Fed's dovish rate-hike outlook

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* Futures up: Dow 69 pts, S&P 6.25 pts, Nasdaq 17.25 pts By Yashaswini Swamynathan March 16 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose onThursday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for thefirst time this year, but indicated it was in no hurry toincrease the pace of tightening. * Drawing on continued strength in the labor market andinflation trending just below its 2 percent target, the centralbank on Wednesday raised rates by a quarter point to 0.75-1.00 percent. * Wall Street ended with solid gains on Wednesday after FedChair Janet Yellen expressed confidence in the U.S. economy andsaid high stock prices were a signal of easier financialconditions. * The Fed, however, stuck to its outlook for two more ratehikes this year and three more in 2018. Shares of big U.S.banks, which slipped on the Fed’s dovish stance on Wednesday,were up between 0.5 and 1.5 percent in premarket trading. * Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President in November setWall Street on a record-setting rally on hopes that he wouldboost the economy through fiscal stimulus, simpler regulationsand tax reforms. * Gold hit a one-week high, while the dollar, which hadrisen on expectations of a more hawkish Fed, hit a one-monthlow. * Oil prices rose about 1 percent, supported by a weakerdollar and data that showed U.S. inventories had dipped afterrising for nine weeks. * Investors will turn their attention to economic data,while looking for more clarity on Trump’s proposed policies. * A Commerce Department report is expected to show housingstarts edged up to 1.26 million-unit rate in February from 1.25million units the previous month. The report is due at 8:30 a.m.ET (1230 GMT). * Also due is a Labor Department report, which is likely toshow the number of Americans who applied for unemploymentbenefits fell by 3,000 to 240,000 last week. * Shares of Tesla rose 2.3 percent to $261.58 afterthe electric carmaker said it would raise about $1.15 billion asthe company speeds up the launch of its Model 3 sedan. * Biogen slipped 2.2 percent to $286 after MorganStanley and Leerink downgraded the drugmaker’s stock and cutprice targets. * Dollar General rose 5 percent to $76.50 after thediscount retailer reported a 13.7 percent jump in quarterlysales. Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET: * Dow e-minis were up 69 points, or 0.33 percent,with 5,550 contracts changing hands. * S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.26percent, with 38,597 contracts traded. * Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 17.25 points, or 0.32percent, on volume of 4,600 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing byAnil D’Silva)

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