Stock Futures Mixed as Fed-Speak Confuses Investors

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Tuesday as varied comments from Federal Reserve officials about its economic stimulus program left investors uncertain about the direction of the central bank's tapering plans. Meanwhile, ongoing debate in Washington about funding the government for the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, is further complicating investor outlook.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2 points, or 3.69 points below fair value, to 1,690.75. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 6 points, or 3.38 points below fair value, to 15,320. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2 points, or 0.46 points above fair value, to 3,211.

At 8:30 a.m. EDT, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Sandra Pianalto is expected to give a speech to open the Chicago Fed payments conference in Chicago. Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George is also expected to make an appearance at the event, at 12:30 p.m. George on Friday said that the central bank's decision to delay tapering was hurting its credibility.

On Monday, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher echoed George's remarks, saying that an "increase uncertainty about the future conduct of policy and call the credibility of our communications into question." However, New York Fed Bank President William Dudley, during prior session, emphasized the economy's need for continued, aggressive accommodation, while Atlanta Federal Bank President Dennis Lockhart also voiced concern about the economic recovery.

In company news, Applied Materials ( AMAT) was the biggest gaining stock in the S&P 500, surging more than 7% to $17.16. The company and Tokyo Electron announced that they have agreed to an all-stock combination which values the new combined company at approximately $29 billion. The companies expect the transaction to close in mid to second half of 2014.

Lennar ( LEN ) was gaining 1.59% to $35.09 after the homebuilder reported third-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share, exceeding expectations by nine cents, as new orders rose 14%. "The long-term outlook for our business remains extremely bright," the company said.

Boeing ( BA ) was slipping 0.85% to $116.51 after South Korea rejected the aerospace giant's proposal to supply the country with 60 fighter jets, causing Boeing to lose out on a 8.3 trillion won ($7.7 billion) deal. South Korea's defense ministry said that the decision was made as the country finds that it requires a greater amount of air power than previously thought due to the nuclear program in North Korea.

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