Futures Move Little After Retail Sales, Inflation Data

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Stock futures pointed to a flat open Tuesday as Wall Street reacted little to two economic reports, one on retail sales and one on producer prices.

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All eyes seem to be on the Federal Reserve's policy decision at 2:15 p.m. ET, where the central bank is expected to talk more about its recently-announced $600 billion quantitative easing strategy and its outlook for the economy.

As of 8:55 a.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 5 points to 11371, the S&P 500 futures were up 1.5 points to 1237.70 and the Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.5 points to 2212.00.

Futures traded in a narrow range both before and after the economic data released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales rose by 0.8% in November, better than the 0.6% rise that economists had been looking for. It's a positive sign as the holiday shopping season got underway last month.

Excluding the volatile auto sector, retail sales were up 1.2% in the month the government said.

Meanwhile the Labor Department said November's producer price index, also known as wholesale inflation, increased by 0.8% last month due to higher commodity costs. The rise was greater than what some economists had anticipated, who generally were looking for the PPI to rise 0.5%.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee is holding its regular policy meeting today and is expected to announce its interest rate decision at around 2:15 a.m. ET. It is not expected that the Federal Reserve will raise or lower interest rates – with remain in a range of 0-0.25% - but the Fed may discuss more about its recently-announced $600 billion quantitative easing strategy.

In earnings, shares of Best Buy plunged more than 12% on Tuesday after the electronics retail giant reported a profit of 54 cents per share, far short of the 61 cents per share analysts had been looking for. Best Buy also trimmed its full-year 2011 forecast, saying it now expects earnings between $3.20 and $3.40 a share.

In commodities, oil was up 0.2% to $88.78 a barrel and gold rose 0.72% to $1,408.00 a troy ounce.

Company News

Biotech drug company Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) saw its shares rise nearly 7% in pre-market trading. The company said late Monday a late-stage trial study of its cancer drug Xgeva showed the drug helped patients live considerably longer with prostate cancer and kept the cancer from spread to the bones as compared to placebo.

Global Markets

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.24% to 5874.99, France's CAC 40 was down 0.03% to 3891.44 and Germany's DAX fell 0.12% to 7021.24.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closed up 0.22% to 10316.80, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.49% to 23431.20 and China's Shanghai Composite added 0.14% to 2927.08.

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