Stock-index futures were mixed early Tuesday, as investors awaited U.S. February retail sales figures and other economic data ahead of the start of a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting.
What are major benchmarks doing?
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
were down 24 points, or 0.1%, at 32,826.
- S&P 500 futures ES00 edged up 3.3 points, or 0.1%, to 3,961.50.
- Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00 were up 72.25 points, or 0.6%, at 13,141.50.
On Monday, stocks ended on a positive note after flipping between modest gains and losses, with the Dow
logging a fourth straight record close, its longest such streak since December 2017, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The S&P 500
also closed at a record, rising 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite
What’s driving the market?
Stocks continue to press higher on expectations vaccine rollouts and another $1.9 trillion dose of COVID-19 relief spending by the U.S. government will fuel an acceleration in economic growth and corporate profits in 2021.
“The accelerated pace of vaccinations in America and the imminent spending boom seem to have reawakened a thirst for risk-taking among investors, who are front-running what will probably be a stellar summer in economic data,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at XM, in a Tuesday note.
“Even the risk of a more hawkish Fed tomorrow appears to have been discounted by market participants,” he said. “Since traders have already priced in an earlier timeline for rate increases, even if policy makers bring forward their rate forecasts to signal a hike in 2023 through the famous ‘dot plot’, that would still be aligned with market pricing and therefore not much of a shock.”
The tech-heavy Nasdaq appeared set to outperform as Treasury yields slipped. The recent backup in yields, which saw the rate on the 10-year note rise for six straight weeks, had weighed on the index as it sparked a rotation away from the most highflying stocks of the pandemic toward more cyclically sensitive stocks expected to gain from a wider economic reopening.
The Fed’s two-day meeting was set to get under way Tuesday morning. When it concludes Wednesday, investors expect no changes in policy but will be eager to see updated projections on the economic outlook and the path for interest rates, while Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference promises to me to be the key economic event of the week.
U.S. investors have brushed off a sluggish European vaccine rollout, though officials have warned that it was premature to declare victory.
The U.S. economic calendar features data on February retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists look for sales to show a monthly fall of 0.1% after a 5.3% jump in January, partly due to severe winter weather. Excluding autos, sales are forecast to rise 0.2% after a January increase of 5.9%. A February import-price index is also due at 8:30 a.m.
“In some ways, the data is a bit irrelevant in the sense that the economy is going to be boosted by the new fiscal stimulus, and funds have already begun to be transferred,” said Marc Chandler, managing director at Bannockburn Global Forex, in a note.
February industrial production and capacity utilization data from the Fed is set for release at 9:15 a.m. Economists look for production to rise 0.5% after a 0.9% rise in January; utilization is expected to rise to 75.8% from 75.6%.
The March National Association of Home Builders index is due at 10 a.m.
Which companies are in focus?
on Tuesday said that it has dosed the first pediatric participants of its KidCOVE Phase 2/3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which is being tested for children aged 6 months to less than 12 years. Moderna shares rose 1.8% in premarket trade.
Shares of GameStop Corp.
were down 7% in premarket trade after the popular meme stock dropped 16.8% on Monday. Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.
another popular holding, was up 1.1% after soaring 25.8% on Monday.
What are other markets doing?
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, was off 0.1%.
Oil futures were lower, with the U.S. benchmark
off 1.5% at $64.42 a barrel.
edged higher, rising 0.2% to $1,733 an ounce.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600
rose 0.6%, while London’s FTSE 100
Asian equity markets logged gains, with the Shanghai Composite
up 0.8%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
gained 0.7% and Japan’s Nikkei 225