Stock futures trade cautiously ahead of more retail earnings

Retail giants Target, Lowe's and TJX Companies will report earnings

U.S. equity futures were trading cautiously after virtual talks were held between President Biden and China's Xi Jinping.

The major futures indexes are mixed with the Nasdaq showing a gain of 0.1%.

The online talks between Biden and Xi late Monday U.S. time appeared to signal a step in the right direction, but they did not yield any major steps toward resolving longstanding disputes over trade and other issues.

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Stocks closed higher on Wall Street as investors reviewed solid earnings reports from big retailers and a surprisingly strong report on consumer spending.

The government reported that Americans largely shrugged off higher prices last month and stepped up their spending at retail stores and online. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.7% in October. That’s the biggest gain since March and up from 0.8% in the previous month.

RETAIL SALES ACCELERATE AS SUPPLY CHAIN CRISIS CAUSES EARLIER START TO HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON

It will be another big day for retail earnings. In the morning watch for results from Target, Lowe’s and TJ Max parent TJX Companies. The afternoon will feature some key tech names, including computer networking giant and Dow member Cisco Systems, and graphics chip powerhouse Nvidia.

On the economic calendar, the Commerce Department is expected to say that the number of new homes being built in October jumped 1.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.576 million, after unexpectedly falling 1.6% in September.

Permits for future construction are anticipated to jump 3.3% to 1.638 million in October, after tumbling almost 8% to 1.586 million the previous month.

In Europe, London's FTSE slipped 0.3%, Germany's DAX gained 0.1% and France's CAC added 0.1%.

In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3% and China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.4%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 35735.18 +508.15 +1.44%
SP500 S&P 500 4686.17 +94.50 +2.06%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 15684.818576 +459.67 +3.02%

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index rose 0.4%, to 4,700.90 and is sitting just below the record it set on Nov. 8. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%, to 36,142.22. The Nasdaq rose 0.8%, to 15,973.86.

Technology stocks did much of the heavy lifting for the benchmark S&P 500, which had slightly more gainers than losers. Chipmaker Qualcomm rose 7.9%.

HOME DEPOT SALES INCREASE, SIGNALING COMPANY COULD AVOID EFFECTS OF SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

A wide range of companies that rely on consumer spending made solid gains. Home Depot rose 5.7% after the home improvement retailer reported surging sales and solid profits in the third quarter amid a hot housing market. The results also lifted competitor Lowe's by 4.2%.

WALMART RAISES FORECAST AND SAYS SHELVES ARE STOCKED FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPERS

The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, also reported solid financial results while raising its profit forecast, but the stock fell 2.5% and gave back some of the big gains it’s made in the last few weeks.

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In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.05 to $79.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 12 cents on Tuesday to $80.76 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 98 cents to $81.45 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.