US stock futures little changed before CPI report

NEW YORK - US stock futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors tread cautiously ahead of key consumer price data that may support the view the Federal Reserve has room to keep interest rates unchanged in the short term.



By (Reuters)

Published: Wed 16 Aug 2006, 7:57 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:14 PM

Earnings may also influence the market with computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. wrapping up the quarterly reporting season among Dow components, and posting figures after the bell. Network Appliance Inc. will also report after the market close.

Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) follows a weaker reading on producer prices on Tuesday that sparked a rally in stocks.

The Producer Price Index figures on Tuesday raised hopes the Fed will keep the benchmark interest rates unchanged at 5.25 percent after 17 straight rises aimed at controlling inflation.

Analysts expect consumer prices to have risen at a faster pace in July than in June as a result of high energy prices and rising pressure on rents due to a cooling housing market.

“We will need a very friendly reading on the CPI numbers to justify yesterday’s rally and spark more gains today,” said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Boston. “The lack of certainty about what the Fed is really going to do, has the stock market glued on any data available on inflation”

Standard & Poor’s 500 futures were up 0.40 point, but slightly below fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 2 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.25 point.

The median forecast increase of the CPI among analysts polled by Reuters was 0.4 percent in July, up from June’s 0.2 percent gain. This would bring the year-over-year rise of the headline CPI to 4.2 percent, down a touch from June’s 4.3 percent.

The CPI core rate, which factors out volatile food and energy prices, likely climbed by 0.3 percent in July, matching June’s increase, the poll said.

Cosmetics maker Estee Lauder Cos. Inc. posted a lower quarterly profit on Wednesday, dragged down by a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

Closeout retailer Big Lots Inc. on Wednesday posted a second-quarter profit with earnings from continuing operations of 4 cents a share compared with a loss of from continuing operations of 11 cents a share in the prior-year quarter.

Shares in Big Lots rose 6.9 percent before the opening bell on Wednesday.

More economic data will be reported Wednesday, including housing starts in July, which will be released at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) and a government reading on industrial production for July will follow at 9:15 a.m. (1315 GMT).

Oil fell below $73 a barrel on Wednesday before US weekly inventory statistics expected to show a 1.8 million-barrel decline in gasoline stocks.


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