Futures Pointing To Lackluster Open On Wall Street

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets on Tuesday, with the Dow futures down by 17 points and the S&P 500 futures up by 4 points. The Nasdaq futures have shown a more notable advance, suggesting continued strength in the tech sector.

The lackluster performance by the futures comes as traders continue to look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

Traders will be paying close attention to any changes to the Fed’s statement as well as any revisions to the central bank’s forecasts for the economy, inflation and interest rates.

Some traders are hoping the Fed will address the recent spike in bond yields, which has led to considerable volatility in Wall Street in recent sessions.

The futures did not show much reaction to a report from the Commerce Department showing U.S. retail sales pulled back by much more than anticipated in the month of February.

The Commerce Department said retail sales plunged by 3.0 percent in February after soaring by an upwardly revised 7.6 percent in January.

Economists had expected retail sales to dip by 0.5 percent compared to the 5.3 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.

The sharp pullback in retail sales reflected weakness in most categories, including sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which plummeted by 4.2 percent in February after surging up by 5.0 percent in January.

Excluding the drop in auto sales, retail sales still tumbled by 2.7 percent in February after skyrocketing by 8.3 percent in January. Ex-auto sales were expected to edge down by 0.1 percent.

Just before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on industrial production in the month of February.

Economists expect industrial production to increase by 0.6 percent in February after climbing by 0.9 percent in January.

Shortly after the open, the Commerce Department is due to release its report on business inventories in the month of January. Business inventories are expected to rise by 0.3 percent.

The National Association of Home Builders is also scheduled to release its report on homebuilder confidence in the month of March.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is expected to edge down to 83 in March after inching up to 84 in February.

Stocks turned in a lackluster performance for much of the trading session on Monday but managed to end the day mostly higher. With the upward move on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.

The major averages showed a strong move to the upside going into the close, ending the session near their best levels of the day. The Dow rose 174.82 points or 0.5 percent to 32,953.46, the Nasdaq jumped 139.84 points or 1.1 percent to 13,459.71 and the S&P 500 climbed 25.60 points or 0.7 percent to 3,968.94.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index increased by 0.5 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has risen by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.6 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.8 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $0.91 to $64.48 a barrel after slipping $0.22 to $65.39 a barrel on Monday. Meanwhile, after climbing $9.40 to $1,729.20 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are inching up $1.30 to $1,730.50 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.00 yen compared to the 109.13 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Monday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1920 compared to yesterday’s $1.1929.

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