US stock index futures were flat on Wednesday as investors focused on the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s November meeting for a clearer picture of its monetary tightening policy.
Recent statements from Fed officials, including Cleveland President Loretta Mester and Kansas City President Esther George, have offered mixed clues about the future path of interest rate hikes, but have reiterated the central bank’s resolve to stamp out inflation.
Traders are now placing their bets on a 50 basis-point increase in the central bank’s next meeting in December.
The benchmark S&P 500 index closed at its highest level in 2-1/2 months on Tuesday after a sales forecast by Best Buy eased concerns that high inflation would lead to a dismal holiday shopping season.
In contrast, shares of Nordstrom were down 9.7% in premarket trading after the fashion retailer cut its profit forecast amid steep markdowns to attract inflation-wary customers.
Wall Street’s three main indexes are on track for their second straight month of gains, riding on a better-than-feared earnings season and hopes of smaller increments in the Fed’s rate hikes.
Trading volume is likely to fall heading into the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, with the US stock market open for a half-session on Friday.
Apple Inc shares slipped 0.3% after hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China, while a source told Reuters that the unrest did not affect production at the plant.
At 6:25 am ET, Dow e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.03% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.01%.
S&P 500 e-minis, which were up 1.75 points, or 0.04%, traded within a narrow 10-point range in the last two hours, ahead of the release of the minutes at 2:00 pm ET.
HP Inc shares rose 1.4% as the personal computer maker said it planned to cut 6,000 jobs by the end of fiscal 2025.
Deere & Co gained 2.8% as the farm equipment maker reported a 75% jump in quarterly profit.
On the data front, investors will keep a close watch on durable goods and new home sales units during October, weekly jobless claims, and S&P Global PMI flash numbers for November to assess economic resilience in the face of an impending slowdown. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal & Ankika Biswas; Additional reporting by Shubham Batra; Editing by Anil D’Silva)