Futures flat as investors count down to Yellen speech

August 26, 2016 7:42 AM EDT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday as investors await Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech at 10:00 a.m. ET for clues on the timing of the next rate hike.

Recently, a host of Fed policymakers, including two on Thursday, have pushed the case for raising interest rates by pointing at improving employment and inflation rates.

But not all Fed policymakers are on board for a rate hike soon, and the markets have been on tenterhooks this week in the run-up to Yellen's speech.

Wall Street has lost about 0.5 percent this week. The dollar index <.DXY> edged lower on Friday as traders refused to completely buy into the recent rhetoric on rates, while prices of gold a safe haven, rose after five days of losses.

Analysts have said they do not expect a rate hike as soon as September, given inflation rates are below the Fed's 2.0-percent target and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. They say the chances of a hike in December is more plausible.

Traders have priced in a 21 percent chance of a September hike and the odds rise to 41.4 percent for a move in December, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Investors will get another snapshot of economic health before Yellen takes center stage. A report due at 8:30 a.m. ET is expected to show second-quarter economic growth was 1.1 percent.

Shares of GameStop (NYSE: GME) dropped 7.2 percent to $29.85 in premarket trading after the company's quarterly revenue missed analysts' estimates.

Splunk (NASDAQ: SPLK) fell 7.7 percent and Talend (NASDAQ: TLND) tumbled 17 percent after the two software companies reported quarterly results.

Futures snapshot at 7:21 a.m. ET:

Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were down 4 points, or 0.02 percent, with 12,450 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 99,656 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 2.75 points, or 0.06 percent, on volume of 14,732 contracts.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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