MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Set To Hover At Record Levels, With Fed Speakers In The Spotlight

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Constellation Brands and SeaWorld shares in focus

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U.S. stock futures indicated a flat start for Wall Street on Thursday, with major indexes expected to hover at or just below record levels as investors await appearances by several Federal Reserve officials.

What are stock benchmarks doing?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were flat at 22,607, while S&P 500 futures inched up 0.05 point to 2,536.25 and Nasdaq-100 futures added 3 points to 6,007.

Stocks eked out record gains and extended a streak of advances on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-set-to-catch-their-breath-after-record-run-but-tesla-jumps-2017-10-04). The S&P 500 finished up 0.1% to a record of 2,537.74, the seventh-straight positive session. The Dow industrials closed up 0.1% to an all-time high of 22,661.57, while the Nasdaq Composite Index also rose 0.1% to 6,534.63.

What could drive markets?

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Weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, along with the trade deficit for August. factory orders for August are expected at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Several Federal Reserve officials will make appearances on Thursday. Fed Gov. Jerome Powell will give a speech at the New York Fed on bond market regulation at 9:10 a.m. Eastern.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams will make a speech on community banking at the St. Louis Fed conference at 8:15 a.m. Eastern. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker will make a speech at a Fed conference in Austin, TX. at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. Kansas City Fed President Esther George will speak at that same conference on 'job polarization and the U.S. labor market at that same conference at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Investors may also be keeping an on eye on the minutes of the latest meeting of the European Central Bank for indications of what the bank plans over the next few months.

What are strategists saying?

-- "Markets are responding positively to the better economic numbers, the prospect of large tax cuts and the receding of geopolitical tensions regarding North Korea. If the strong economic numbers are sustained and the Trump presidency delivers on tax cuts, it is likely the equity markets will rise higher over the next few months," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive officer and founder of Sun Global Investments, in a note.

-- "With the dollar index at near two-month highs, it looks like the market is prepared to believe that the [Fed] committee remains committed to higher rates, even if they think current forecasts are a bit on the hawkish side," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. Beauchmap said sharp gains for the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-yardstick-of-us-manufacturers-touches-highest-level-since-2004-ism-finds-2017-10-02) and services (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-yardstick-of-us-manufacturers-touches-highest-level-since-2004-ism-finds-2017-10-02) indexes released this week may draw comment from Fed's Powell and Harker. Both sets of data provide rationale for further U.S. rate increases. Details on the Fed's balance-sheet unwind may also be offer, he said.

Which stocks are in focus?

Corona parent Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) is due to post earnings before the open, then Costco Wholesale Corp.(COST) reports after the close.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.(SEAS) is up 6.2% premarket on news that Legoland parent Merlin Entertainments Inc.(MERL.LN) might buy part of the troubled water park operator (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/seaworld-surges-on-reports-of-possible-deal-with-legoland-owner-2017-10-05).

What are other assets doing?

European stocks traded mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-trade-mixed-as-investors-absorb-catalonia-developments-2017-10-05), while Spanish stocks rebounded after posting the biggest loss in 15 months on Wednesday. Spanish assets have been battered in recent days in the fallout from an independence vote from the Catalan region that turned violent.

Read:Catalonia's secession from Spain may come as soon as Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/catalonias-secession-from-spain-may-come-as-soon-as-monday-2017-10-04)

Asian markets traded mostly positive (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-swings-to-slight-gains-as-other-asian-markets-rise-2017-10-04), though several markets were shut for holidays.

Oil futures rose, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index eased back, and gold futures advanced.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 05, 2017 06:28 ET (10:28 GMT)