Stock Futures Flat After GDP Read Matches Expectations
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U.S. stock-index futures traded in a tight range on Wednesday after two quiet sessions as market participants mulled a report on American economic growth that came in line with expectations and awaited data on the housing market.
As of 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 6 points to 13091, S&P 500 futures gained 1.5 points to 1410 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 4.8 points to 2785.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange came in below 3 billion shares for the tenth time this month on Tuesday. The last time that such a dearth of trading over so many days occurred in September 2007.
Analysts pointed to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at Jackson Hole, Wyo. on Friday and a European Central Bank meeting next month for reasons for the caution. Still, there was no lack of news to consider.
ECB President Mario Draghi wrote in an article in a German newspaper that "it should be understood that fulfilling our mandate sometimes requires us to go beyond standard monetary policy tools," according to the Wall Street Journal. Draghi has taken an increasingly dovish tone as the eurozone's debt crisis has began threatening big economies like Spain and Italy.
There are also several reports on the U.S. economy on tap. A second reading by the Commerce Department on U.S. gross domestic product showed the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.7% in the second quarter, in line with economists' estimates and faster than an initial estimate of 1.5%.
Data later are forecast to show pending home sales having jumped 1% in July from the month before. The housing market, which has been a substantial drag on the economy, has been showing more signs of recovery of late.
The Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book in the afternoon. The report doesn't provide numerical information, but instead provides an anecdotal view of how the economy is faring. Traders will likely look for any clues of the central bank's perception of economic issues, and consider how those may play into any potential futures easing plans.
Elsewhere, energy futures came under pressure after Hurricane Isaac largely spared U.S. offshore crude oil and natural gas production facilities. The benchmark oil contract traded in New York fell 77 cents, or 0.8%, to $95.56 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dropped 1% to $3.094 a gallon.
In metals, gold dipped $5.10, or 0.31%, to $1,665 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 slipped 0.58% to 2428, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.53% to 5745 and the German DAX slumped 0.5% to 6967.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 9070 and the Chinese Hang Seng inched lower by 0.12% to 19789.