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Stock futures trading in narrow range

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[August 11, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are little changed Tuesday as investors await new data on productivity and wholesale inventories and as the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting.

RestaurantAfter a steep run-up in recent weeks on the strength of better-than-expected earnings, investors have paused amid a lull in new economic and profit data.

Overseas markets were mixed as new economic reports showed China's stimulus measures were helping buffer the country from the global downturn, though weak fundamentals persist.

In the U.S., investors will get data on productivity and wholesale inventories Tuesday morning that could help sway trading. However, traders will likely keep a close eye on the Fed's two-day meeting that kicks off Tuesday.

It is widely expected the Fed will hold interest rates steady at near zero when they end their meeting Wednesday, but the group's economic assessment will be closely studied to determine how the economy is faring.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 12, or 0.1 percent, to 9,308. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures declined 1.80, or 0.2 percent, to 1,005.70, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 2.75, or 0.2 percent, to 1,609.75.

A Labor Department report is expected to show quarterly productivity -- which measures the amount of output per hour of work -- grew 5.3 percent during the second quarter, more than three times higher than growth seen in the first quarter. The growth was likely tied to businesses successfully cutting the number of hours worked faster than the decline in output, rather than the result of improving production.

The report is due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

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The Commerce Department is expected to report wholesale inventories fell in June for the 10th consecutive month, declining 0.9 percent, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. However, sales at the wholesale level are expected to have ticked 0.5 percent higher during the month, a sign the economy might be improving.

The inventories report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT.

Meanwhile, bond prices also showed little movement as the Treasury Department prepares this week to auction off a record $75 billion in debt. The auctions start Tuesday with the sale of $37 billion in three-year notes.

The yield on the three-year note, which moves opposite its price, was unchanged at 1.78 percent. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.79 percent from 3.78 percent late Monday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.6 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.03 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 gained 0.2 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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