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Stock futures advance ahead of release of Fed minutes

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[May 21, 2014]  By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) Stock index futures advanced on Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 on track to rebound from a broad selloff in the prior session ahead of the release of minutes from the most recent meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Fed is scheduled to release the minutes from its late April meeting at 2:00 p.m. (1400 ET), when the central bank looked past a dismal reading on first-quarter U.S. growth and gave a mostly upbeat assessment of the economy's prospects as it announced another cut in its massive bond-buying stimulus.

New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said on Tuesday inflation should "drift upwards" towards the Fed's 2 percent goal, but a swift climb in inflation was unlikely; Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said the $2.5 trillion in reserves accumulated by banks could be the trigger for more rapid inflation.

All 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes fell on Tuesday and nearly three-quarters of Nasdaq-listed names declined, led by losses in the retail sector after disappointing results from Staples and TJX Companies.

Lowe's Companies <LOW.N> rose 1.1 percent to $46 in light premarket trade after the world's second-largest home improvement chain said sales picked up in May and it would maintain its full-year sales growth forecast, even as it reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results.

S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 3.75 points and were above 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 e-mini futures gained 35 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 8 points.

Tiffany & Co <TIF.N> jumped 6 percent to $93.50 before the opening bell after the jewelry retailer reported a 13 percent rise in quarterly sales.

Other S&P 500 companies expected to report Wednesday include Target Corp <TGT.N> and Hewlett-Packard <HPQ.N>.

With earnings season almost wrapped up, Thomson Reuters data showed that of 470 companies in the S&P 500 that reported through Tuesday morning, 68.3 percent topped expectations, above the 63 percent average since 1994 and a 66 percent beat rate for the past four quarters.

European shares fell, dropping further from last week's 2014 highs, weighed by BNP Paribas on reports U.S. authorities were seeking to fine the bank. <.EU>

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> slipped 0.1 percent in the wake of the fall in U.S. stocks, as Asian investors continued to keep a wary eye on escalating tensions in Thailand.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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