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* Futures down: Dow 0.41%, S&P 0.49%, Nasdaq 0.67%

Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures inched lower on Wednesday ahead of an inflation reading later in the week that would influence bets on when the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, due on Thursday is likely to show prices rose on a monthly basis in January.

Stocks have struggled in the days leading up to the report after a scorching rally in the previous week that was fueled by upbeat earnings reports and euphoria around the potential for artificial intelligence (AI).

The PCE index is expected to show that inflation is being stubborn, said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"The path down from sky-high price rises was always expected to be a bumpy one, but America's economy has proved even more resilient than forecast with a strong labor market boosting consumer purchasing power," Streeter added.

Evidence of sticky inflation, a robust U.S. economy and pushback from some Fed officials have already led traders to delay bets of the first interest rate cut to June from March.

The second estimate of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product is due at 8:30 am ET (1330 GMT) on Wednesday, with data on jobless claims and manufacturing activity due in the coming days. The readings will be parsed for further clues on the strength of the economy and the outlook for interest rates.

Later on Wednesday, investors will watch out for comments from Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and New York Fed President John Williams - both voting members this year.

Investors are also keeping a tab on attempts by the U.S. Congress to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of the week.

At 5:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 160 points, or 0.41%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 25 points, or 0.49%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 120 points, or 0.67%.

Most megacap stocks inched lower in premarket trading, with AI darling Nvidia lagging peers with a 1.4% decline.

Semiconductor equipment supplier Applied Materials slid 3.1% following a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in February, requesting information relating to certain China customer shipments.

Among major movers, Beyond Meat surged 55.3% as the plant-based meat company said it would ramp up product prices and "steeply reduce" costs this year after topping quarterly revenue estimates.

E-commerce platform eBay added 3.0% as quarterly results beat expectations, while First Solar climbed 4.4% after the solar panel manufacturer reported a profit in the fourth quarter.

Bumble slid 9% after the online dating company forecast disappointing first-quarter revenue.

Shares of cryptocurrency firms Coinbase Global, Marathon Digital and Riot Platforms jumped between 4.5% and 7.1% as bitcoin surged for a fifth day to near $60,000. (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru)