Stock Futures Cautious as Concern Shifts to U.S. Budget

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 ) 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 ) 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.

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