Analyst: 'Market focus is on forward guidance, balance sheet reduction and what signals Janet Yellen gives'
U.S. stock futures were modestly higher on Wednesday with investors taking weaker-than-expected economic data in stride.
The consumer-price index, or cost of living, fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in May, largely thanks to lower gasoline prices, which also depressed retails sales last month.
S&P 500 futures edged higher by 3 points, or 0.1%, to 2,441.50, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 27 points, or 0.1%, to 21,307. Nasdaq-100 futures tacked on 21 points, or 0.4%, to 5,781.
Shannon Saccocia, head of asset allocation & portfolio strategy at Boston Private, said softer data are consistent with recent trend of weakness but unlikely to change the Federal Reserve's well-telegraphed plan to raise interest rates today.
"The market can absorb three rates hikes this year, though the Fed might pause in raising rates after this patch of soft economic data," Saccocia said.
Futures largely shrugged off news of shooting in Northern Virginia, where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-majority-whip-scalise-shot-at-congressional-baseball-practice-2017-06-14) and several people were injured after a gunman opened fire during a baseball practice. The suspect shooter is said to be in police custody.
Saccocia said that the market may continue to ignore the shooting unless it turns out to be an organized plan involving more than just one lone shooter.
Economists are nearly unanimous (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellen-may-be-forceful-in-press-conference-when-defending-feds-interest-rate-path-2017-06-13) that the central bank will raise rates on Wednesday afternoon, so a key focus will be what Fed chief Janet Yellen and her colleagues say about the timing of subsequent hikes.
A rate hike on Wednesday is a sure thing, "so the market focus is on forward guidance, balance sheet reduction and what signals Janet Yellen gives in her press conference," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, in a note.
A Fed policy statement is due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, followed by Yellen's news conference at 2:30 p.m. The chairwoman is expected to push back hard (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellen-may-be-forceful-in-press-conference-when-defending-feds-interest-rate-path-2017-06-13) on the market's skepticism (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-the-market-thinks-the-fed-has-got-wrong-2017-06-13) about the need for another rate hike this year.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 and Dow achieved all-time closing highs (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-tech-stocks-poised-to-rally-after-rout-as-eyes-turn-toward-the-fed-2017-06-13), and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied after a two-day slump.
Other economic news: May figures for inflation and retail sales are slated to hit at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with economists polled by MarketWatch forecasting no change for the headline numbers.
At 10 a.m. Eastern, a release on April business inventories is expected to arrive.
Individual movers: Shares in Tesla Inc.(TSLA) traded 1% higher in premarket action after the maker of electric cars scored another record close Tuesday.
The jump came amid news that Tesla's Model X SUV snagged a five-star safety rating (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/teslas-model-x-gets-5-star-safety-rating-from-nhtsa-2017-06-13), and as billionaire investor and Tesla bull Ron Baron said the stock could rise by more than 50% by 2018 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/billionaire-predicts-blue-chips-to-double-by-2030-and-tesla-shares-to-do-even-better-2017-06-13).
H&R Block Inc.(HRB) soared 10% for the S&P 500's biggest premarket gain after the tax preparer posted better-than-expected earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hr-block-shares-rally-after-company-beats-eps-sales-expectations-2017-06-13) late Tuesday.
Other markets:Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-under-pressure-on-worries-data-will-confirm-rising-us-stockpiles-2017-06-14) fell after the American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that U.S. oil and gasoline stockpiles rose again last week. A report from the Energy Information Administration, due at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, will be watched for confirmation of the increase.
European stocks advanced, while Asian markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-gain-as-tech-stocks-bounce-back-2017-06-13) closed mixed. Gold futures and a key dollar index were little changed.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 14, 2017 09:18 ET (13:18 GMT)