Equity Futures Flat Ahead of Data Blast

NYSE trader, FBN

U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday, ahead of a blast of economic data and a day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen painted a largely upbeat picture of the economy.

Yellen said on Tuesday, before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, that delaying interest rate hikes would be unwise, but did not indicate when the Fed would raise rates.

Her testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday will be scrutinized for further clues on when the central bank might pull the trigger.

Traders have priced in very little chances of a rate hike at the Fed's March meeting. However, some Fed officials have said it would be prudent to move sooner than later.

Three Fed presidents, including William Dudley, are scheduled to make speeches on Wednesday and their comments will be closely assessed for further clarity on the opinion of policymakers.

Key economic data on tap include reports on monthly retail sales and on consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). Data on industrial output for January is due at 9:15 a.m. ET.

Wall Street's main indexes have closed at record highs for the past four sessions, sparked by President Donald Trump's promise on Thursday of a major tax announcement and fueled by Yellen's comments.

World stocks also gained on Yellen's remarks. The dollar rose for the 11th straight session and hit a near four-week high. Prices of safe haven gold fell.

Among stocks, Pepsi inched up 0.22 percent to $10 in light premarket trading after the beverage maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Dow component Procter & Gamble rose 2.5 percent to $90.10 after activist investor Trian Fund disclosed a $3.5 billion stake in the consumer products company.

Fortress Investment surged 28 percent to $7.95 after Japan's SoftBank agreed to buy the company for $3.3 billion.

Watchmaker Fossil dropped 18.4 percent to $18.65 after posting fourth-quarter revenue that missed analysts' expectations.

Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. EDT:

Dow e-minis were up 19 points, or 0.09 percent, with 21,246 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.05 percent, with 75,078 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or flat on volume of 16,676 contracts.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)