Wednesday February 22nd

22-02-2017

Futures point to muted open on Wall Street; earnings, Fed in focus

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wednesday as traders focused on a host of earnings reports after fresh record highs in the previous session. On the data front, Tuesday will see existing home sales for January at 10 a.m ET with the latest minutes from the FOMC meeting due to be released at 2 p.m ET. Traders aren't expecting much reaction to what should be relatively old news from the U.S. central bank. But the risks are two way - the Fed could sound surprisingly dovish, counter to the recent statements of some Fed officials. Or on the other hand, it could sound more hawkish than the statement it released after that meeting on Feb. 1, where it held interest rates steady. On the earnings front, Norwegian Cruise Line is among the major companies that reported before the bell. Tesla Motors, HP, L Brands, Boston Beer and Cheesecake Factory are all due to report after the market close. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx-600 index was around 0.12 percent higher on Wednesday. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite in China closed 0.23 percent higher, while the Nikkei in Japan closed flat. In oil markets, prices contracted slightly on Wednesday but losses were limited by investor optimism that OPEC would be able to adhere to a deal attempting to curb global oversupply. Brent crude traded at around $56.27 a barrel on Wednesday, down 0.69 percent, while U.S. crude was around $53.93 a barrel, down 0.74 percent. Nervous investors looked for new signals on whether U.S. interest rates would rise in March and on President Donald Trump's tax plans as gold held steady on Wednesday. Spot gold rose 0.19 percent $1,238.41 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures inched up 0.06 percent to $1,239.60. Spot gold dropped as much as 1 percent to touch a one-week low of $1,225.73 in the previous session.