Stock index futures fell on Friday on a surprise increase in the Federal Reserve's discount rate that signaled to some investors that the U.S. central bank may be starting to retreat from its easy money policy.

The Fed on Thursday said it was raising the rate it charges banks for emergency loans. The move, despite being a signal the economy is on the right track, alarmed investors who have relied heavily on near-zero interest rates and have shoveled cheap money into risky but higher-yielding investments such as equities and commodities.

The market is taking this as a move to start tightening policies when in fact, the Fed came out and said it wasn't. Regardless, the street is not liking the move and they are not listening, said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore.

Futures fell on the unexpected announcement after U.S. stocks posted a third straight day of gains on solid earnings and economic data.

Fed officials moved to calm speculation that a surprise rise in its discount rate could bring forward broader policy tightening, saying borrowing costs in the economy would stay low.

S&P 500 futures fell 7 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 47 points and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 7.3 points.

The Labor Department will release January consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.3 percent increase compared with a 0.2 percent rise the prior month. Excluding volatile food and energy items, the CPI is seen likey to rise 0.1 percent, a repeat of the December reading.

Financial stocks are in focus as they are the stocks most likely to be the most influenced by the Fed's move.

Bank of America was down 1.2 percent at $15.69 in premarket trade, and JPMorgan Chase fell 0.6 percent at $40.15.

Shares in Dell Inc also fell 5.4 percent to $13.65 before the bell. The company's quarterly gross margin missed Wall Street expectations on Thursday after the bell, hurt by sales of lower-priced personal computers for consumers and a rise in costs for memory chips and other components.

U.S. oilfield services leader Schlumberger Ltd dipped 3.2 percent to $63.65 in premarket trade. The company is in advanced talks to buy smaller rival Smith International Inc , the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the negotiations. [ID:nSGE61I05E]. Smith's stock rose 17.4 percent to $39.15 in premarket trade.

Former Bank of America Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said he was briefed twice on his company's decision not to disclose rising losses at Merrill Lynch & Co, before the bank's takeover of Merrill was put before shareholders.

The U.S. dollar hit an eight-month high against a currency basket in the wake of the Fed's surprise announcement, while crude oil futures retreated nearly 1 percent to $78.15 a barrel.

(Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)