NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were creeping forward Wednesday after sideways trading for much of the early morning, reflecting outstanding questions about Federal Reserve tapering and the fast-approaching Oct. 1 deadline for reaching a deal on the federal budget.
Futures for the S&P 500 were up 1 point, or 3.38 points above fair value, to 1,693.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining 19 points, or 49.41 points above fair value, to 15,305. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 4.5 points, or 7.99 points above fair value, to 3,217.75.
Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners, said in a note that the number of stocks making new 52-week highs on all exchanges as of Tuesday of last week lagged by far the levels hit in early August, May and January.
"Markets are still in the midst of one of the bigger cycle periods of the month and quarter for trend change," Newton said. "It's also worth noting that momentum continues to register extraordinarily low readings compared to either early August or May highs in the U.S. indices."
In corporate news, AutoZone (AZO) - Get AutoZone, Inc. Report shares were slipping 0.56% to $412 after automotive replacement parts retailer reported in line fourth-quarter earnings of $3.1 billion with earnings coming in at $10.42 a share versus the average earnings per share estimate of $10.34.
Noble Corporation (NE) - Get Noble Corporation Report was popping 3.08% to $39.10 after the offshore drilling contractor said that its board has approved a plan to separate a business comprised of many of its standard specification drilling units, resulting in the creation of two separate and highly focused offshore drilling companies. The drilling units that would be owned and operated by the new company. The company also said that the separation may be preceded by an initial public offering of up to 20% of the shares of the new company.
> Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report has updated its Kindle Fire tablet line, launching 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HDX to help take on Apple's (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report iPad, which still has the top spot in the tablet market, with 32.4%, according to tech research firm IDC.
Durable-goods orders rose by a slightly better than expected 0.1% in August versus expectations that it would come in flat and after falling by a downwardly revised 8.1%, the Census Bureau reported. Orders excluding the transportation component fell 0.1% versus the expectation of a 1% rise and after declining by an upwardly revised 0.5%. Andrew Wilkinson, the New York-based chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note that while the report was not weak overall, it does not point to an acceleration of activity and argues in favor of the FOMC's recent decision to await further data points that might indicate sustainability of demand.
The Census Bureau will also be releasing new-home sales data for August at 10 a.m. An increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 420,000 from 394,000 in July is expected.
The DAX in Germany was down 0.03% while the FTSE 100 was rising 0.11%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng settled up 0.13%. The Nikkei 225 closed down 0.76%.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was unchanged, with the yield at 2.658%. The dollar was edging down 0.19% to $80.41 according to the U.S. dollar index.
November crude oil futures were rising 65 cents to $103.78 a barrel. December gold futures were gaining $7.10 to $1,323.40 an ounce.
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York
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