Market

U.S. stock futures point to consolidation ahead of Fed minutes

U.S. stock-index futures pointed Wednesday to a flat start for U.S. equities as investors await minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July policy meeting a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index broke a streak of five straight record finishes.

What are major indexes doing?

On Tuesday, the Dow
DJIA,
-0.79%

fell 282.12 points, or 0.8%, while the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.71%

declined 0.7%, retreating from record levels after data showed a larger-than-expected drop in July retail sales. The Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-0.93%

dropped 0.9%.

What’s driving the market?

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July 27-28 policy meeting are due at 2 p.m. Eastern and will be combed for clues to the timing of when the central bank will lay out a timetable for tapering its monthly asset purchases.

News reports earlier this week said policy makers were nearing an agreement to begin scaling back purchases by November, with The Wall Street Journal reporting some policy makers were looking to end purchases by mid-2022. A formal announcement on tapering is expected at either next week’s symposium on monetary policy in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or the Fed’s September meeting.

Despite Tuesdays modest pullback, “it is quite impressive that U.S. markets are still within touching distance from record highs, defying an imminent withdrawal of Fed liquidity as well as a worsening delta outbreak in America and Asia, even with valuations being so stretched,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note.

“This resilience might boil down to expectations that the Fed will be infinitely cautious in reining back stimulus and that Congress will put a floor under economic growth by delivering another multi-trillion round of spending,” he said. “Monetary policy will still be super-loose after tapering and the fiscal taps aren’t closing.”

Ahead of the Fed minutes, data on July housing starts and building permits is set for release at 8:30 a.m. Investors will also hear from St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard, who will be interviewed by MarketWatch at noon.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Target Corp.
    TGT,
    -2.90%

    fell more than 3% in premarket trade despite results that topped earnings and revenue expectations as it showed a slowdown in growth in shopping activity from the COVID-19 highs.

  • Krispy Kreme Inc.
    DNUT,
    -3.97%

    late Tuesday said its losses widened in the spring, but executives blamed the decline on costs associated with returning to the public market and established annual guidance that surpassed analysts’ estimates. Shares were up 2.9%.

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