Nasdaq set for higher open after Apple results, inflation data

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* Apple rises after posting record holiday quarter sales

* Caterpillar falls on flagging Q1 margin pressure

* Futures down: Dow 0.31%, S&P 0.09%, Nasdaq 0.17%

By Devik Jain and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq was set to open higher on Friday after stellar results from Apple Inc, while the latest reading of the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge to measure inflation eased concerns around faster interest rate hikes.

The iPhone maker AAPL.O gained 3% in premarket trading after posting record sales for its flagship phones in the holiday quarter.

The core personal consumption expenditure price index, rose 0.5% for the month of December, in line with expectations.

"It does look like the overall number was a little bit better than what the market was expecting, and so that is causing a little bit of a reversal in the premarket," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Still, inflation accelerated 4.9% year-on-year in December, the biggest rise since 1983, while consumer spending fell last month amid tight supply chains and raging COVID-19 infections.

Wall Street's main indexes are on course for their fourth straight weekly fall as traders and big banks raised their bets to nearly five rate hikes by December after the Federal Reserve hinted at a rate hike in March and warned of persistent inflation.

"While it doesn't feel fun, we are exiting a period of 0% interest rates and trillions of dollars in Fed asset purchases," said Darrell Spence, economist at Capital Group.

"We knew it had to happen sometime, and now that we are exiting that environment and moving into a different regime, we should expect a little bit more volatility."

Geopolitical tensions between Russia and West over Ukraine also increased market volatility, with the Wall Street's fear gauge .VIX last up 0.75 point at 31.24.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX narrowly avoided correction for the fourth time this week on Thursday. Small-caps have suffered the most, with the Russell 2000 index .RUT now down 20.8% from its record-closing peak of Nov. 8 and confirming a bear market.

At 8:58 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 106 points, or 0.31%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 4 points, or 0.09%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 23.5 points, or 0.17%.

Russell 2000 futures RTYcv1 were down 0.6%.

The fourth-quarter earnings season has been mixed so far. Of the 145 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings as of Thursday, 79.3% beat profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data.

Visa V.N added 4.3% after beating Wall Street's quarterly estimates as more international travel and e-commerce drove an increase spending volumes.

Caterpillar Inc CAT.N slipped 4.0% after the world's largest heavy-duty equipment maker warned of margin pressure from higher production and labor costs.

VF Corp VFC.N slid 5% after the Vans owner cut its full-year revenue outlook on delivery delays and worker shortages, while storage hardware maker Western Digital WDC.O fell 8.1% on bleak forecast.

"Supply chain issues are going to be with us for at least the first half of this year ... these issues combined with higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions are going to continue to weigh on stocks for awhile," said Sam Stovall, chief Investment strategist at CFRA Research.

Commission-free brokerage Robinhood Markets Inc HOOD.O dropped 12.1% after reporting a net loss.

Reporting by Devik Jain and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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