MARKET SNAPSHOT: Nasdaq Shapes Up For Another Record, With Retail Earnings On Deck

By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

On the earnings docket: Lowe's, Dollar Tree, Medtronic, Campbell Soup

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U.S. stock futures on Tuesday pointed to a small step higher at the open, putting the Nasdaq Composite on track to flirt with record territory.

Investors are waiting for a raft of corporate earnings and weighing up departing Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's announcement (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/janet-yellen-announces-shes-leaving-the-fed-2017-11-20) that she will leave the central bank altogether, rather than stay on as a Fed governor.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

S&P 500 futures rose by 1.40 points, or 0.1%, to 2,583.50, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures moved up by 21 points, or 0.1%, to 23,416. Nasdaq-100 futures added 7 points, or 0.1%, to 6,323.

On Monday, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both gained 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-face-another-down-day-as-german-political-concerns-weigh-2017-11-20), leaving the Nasdaq less than 0.1% from last week's all-time closing high (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-on-track-to-bounce-back-after-dows-138-point-drop-2017-11-16). The Dow tacked on 0.3%, as the blue-chip gauge and the S&P finished 0.6% and 0.5% away from their early-November record closes, respectively.

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The three equity benchmarks are up between 15% and 26% for the year as of Monday's close, helped by factors such as an expanding U.S. economy, growth in corporate profits and bets that the Trump administration will deliver tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.

What are strategists saying?

The Monday announcement from Yellen, who could have stayed on as a Fed governor until 2024, gives President Donald Trump even more room (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellens-departure-gives-trump-even-more-space-to-rebuild-the-fed-2017-11-20) to change the way the U.S. central bank operates.

"How these changes will potentially affect Fed policy next year is going to be particularly tricky and should not be underestimated," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note. "The permanent Fed governors get a vote at every meeting. Their views on monetary policy are going to be important and carry a lot of weight."

What could help drive markets?

An October reading for the Chicago Fed's national activity index is slated to hit at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, and an October figure for existing-home sales is due at 10 a.m. Eastern. Economists polled by MarketWatch are expecting 5.45 million homes were sold.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

At 6 p.m. Eastern, Yellen is scheduled to take part in an event with former Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King at New York University's business school.

Which stocks look like key movers?

Shares in Intuit Inc.(INTU) traded 0.3% lower in premarket action. The maker of TurboTax and other accounting software posted better-than-expected quarterly results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/intuit-beats-on-first-quarter-earnings-but-stock-falls-2017-11-20) late Monday, but some analysts said the company's guidance was disappointing.

Agilent Technologies Inc.(A) shares look set for a down day after the maker of scientific equipment late Monday posted better-than-anticipated quarterly earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/agilent-falls-from-record-highs-after-forecast-comes-up-short-2017-11-20) but gave a profit forecast that fell short of expectations.

Shares in AmerisourceBergen Corp.(ABC) could see active trading after the drug distributor late Monday agreed to buy independent wholesaler H.D. Smith for $815 million.

Among the companies expected to post earnings before the open are retailers Lowe's Cos.(LOW) , Dollar Tree Inc.(DLTR) and Signet Jewelers Ltd.(SIG) . Also on the docket are medical-device maker Medtronic PLC(MDT) and packaged-foods heavyweights Hormel Foods Corp.(HRL) and Campbell Soup Co.(CPB) .

Earnings preview:Analyst surveys point to a strong quarter for Salesforce (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/salesforce-earnings-analyst-surveys-pointing-to-a-strong-quarter-2017-11-20)

What are other assets doing?

European stocks traded modestly higher, while Asian markets mostly closed with gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tech-stocks-lead-broad-gains-by-asian-markets-2017-11-20). Gold futures and oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-regains-some-ground-lost-at-the-start-of-the-week-2017-11-21) were advancing, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index was little changed.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 21, 2017 05:36 ET (10:36 GMT)