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Stock Market Today: Futures Extend Gains as CPI Eases, Housing Starts Jump

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Those expecting any shift in the Federal Reserve's monetary policy at this week's symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., are most likely setting themselves up for disappointment.

U.S. stock futures on Tuesday were pointing to another strong start, building on the prior session's gains that saw the S&P 500 rise to just 0.8% below its July 24 record close. The gains came as many economists and market participants continue to bet that the Fed will keep communicating a more dovish stance despite rising inflation chatter and a consistently healthy economic recovery.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 53 points, or 40.26 points above fair value, to 16,846. S&P 500 futures were up 4.5 points, or 3.71 points above fair value, to 1,972. Nasdaq futures were up 10.2 points, or 6.4 points above fair value, to 4,023.5.

Ahead of the open, the oft-watched inflation gauge, the Consumer Price Index, reported an as-expected 0.1% rise in July, down from 0.3% in June; the reading highlights that while inflationary pressures are in motion, broad readings aren't surging. Such reports are expected to give the Fed more room to maneuver on rate hiking. The government also reported that housing starts jumped 15.7% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million.

The FOMC minutes from the Fed's July meeting on Wednesday and Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole on Friday are expected to provide more clues into whether the central bank will expedite the policy normalization process.

Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, is among the market participants who are certain that Yellen will give a more dovish rather than hawkish speech in light of her previously voiced concerns that history has shown that premature monetary tightening can be disastrous.

"I've often affectionately called her the 'Fairy Godmother of the Bull Market.' Stock prices tend to rise after she speaks about the economy and monetary policy," said Yardeni.

In premarket action, home-improvement retailer Home Depot (HD - Get Report) was up 3.78% to $86.75 after reporting second-quarter earnings of $2.05 billion, or $1.52 a share, up from year-earlier profit of $1.79 billion, or $1.24 a share.

BHP Billiton (BHP) was down 3.2% to $70.49 after saying it plans to split off some of its smaller assets into a separate company. The world's biggest mining company also said it posted annual profit of $13.8 billion, up 32% from a year earlier. Sprint (S) , the third-largest wireless company in the U.S., announced new, cheaper pricing plans on Monday that double its data offerings. The stock was down 0.71% to $5.58.

--By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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