Wall Street futures suggest another positive open for U.S. stocks Wednesday as global investors inch cautiously towards Federal Reverse Chairwoman's press conference amid increasing central bank signals that a decade of record low interest rates is about to come to an end.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is priced to gain no more than a few points at the opening bell, however, while the broader S&P 500 and Nasdaq benchmarks are essentially unchanged from their record closing levels Tuesday ahead of the 2:00 pm eastern time rate decision and the press conference that will follow 30 minutes later.
However, one of the more active shares expected at the start of the U.S. session will be Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) , which slumped more than 13.5% in pre-market trading after the home furnishing retailer's disappointing second quarter earnings report late Tuesday, which missed analysts' estimates by 28 cents and slashed its full-year profit forecast.
Those expectations mirror the action seen overnight in Asia and in Europe, where the broadest measure of regional share prices, the Stoxx Europe 600 index, was marked 0.02% higher in quiet trading by mid-morning in London. In fact, the most active mover of the session was the U.K. pound, which higher against a modestly weaker U.S. dollar after the country's official statistics office said August retail sales much faster than anticipated, possibly cementing the case for a rate increase from the Bank of England as early as November.
U.K. retail sales grew by 1% last month when compared to July, the Office for National Statistics said, topping the consensus forecast of a 0.2% gain. Over a three-month span ending in August, the ONS said, the growth rate is 1.2%, that's up from the 0.7% pace recorded over the three months ending in July.
The pound, which had traded at around 1.3507 prior to the data release, spiked nearly 0.33% to 1.3554 as traders increased bets that the faster pace of sales could close the case for BoE rate hikes.
The pound's gain kept any advance for the FTSE 100 in check, with the benchmark adding 6 points, or 0.09%, by 10:30 am local time. The benchmark's biggest mover to the upside was U.K. home improvement retailer Kingfisher Plc (KGFHY) , which gained 5.5% after it reported stronger-than-expected first half earnings and announced a small share buyback.
Benchmarks in Germany and France were also stronger in the opening hours of trading, but only modestly so, as the euro traded past the 1.20 mark against the U.S. dollar following a report from Reuters that suggested the European Central Bank has yet to decide how, or if, it will articulate the end of its €2.3 trillion quantitative easing program.
In Germany, where the DAX performance index gained 5 points, or 0.04%, the biggest early mover were shares in Thyssenkrupp AG (TKAMY) , which surged 3.35% to €26.10 each after it unveiled a joint-venture agreement with India's Tata Steel to combine the two group's operations to create Europe's second-largest steel producer.
Last night's triple-set of record highs on Wall Street failed to ripple through into Asia trading amid the tentative atmosphere, with the U.S. dollar slipping 0.14% to 91.66 and the broadest measure of regional stocks, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index edging 0.13% higher by the close of the session.
Global crude prices, however, were active overnight after Iraq's Oil Minister told reporters that OPEC members could still consider extending their production cut pact beyond the March 2018 deadline. He also said there was a chance the production cuts could deepen past the 1.8 million barrel per day level first agreed in November of last year.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for November delivery, the new active contract, were marked 0.25% higher at $50.40 at 08:30 London time while Brent contracts for November were seen 0.45% higher at $55.45.
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