Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures point to mixed start after another round of records for S&P 500, Nasdaq

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Stock-index futures traded near unchanged early Wednesday, with investors looking a day ahead to a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell absent other market-driving catalysts after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite scored another round of records on Tuesday.

How are major benchmarks trading?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, -0.20% fell 56 points, or 0.2%, to 28,137, while S&P 500 futures ES00, +0.01% were up 0.35 point at 3,443.25. Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, +0.33% gained 42.50 points, or 0.4%, to trade at 11,768.75.

The Dow DJIA, -0.21% on Tuesday lost ground, falling 60.02 points, or 0.2%, to close at 28,248.44, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.36% advanced 12.34 points, or 0.4%, to end at 3,443.62, a record finish. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.76% rose 86.75 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 11,466.47, also a record.

What’s driving the market?

“With no major headlines or a clear catalyst to drive the markets on Tuesday, and with no major releases scheduled on Wednesday’s agenda, it seems that investors may have taken a more cautious stance ahead of Fed Chair Powell’s keynote speech at the Jackson Hole economic symposium,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, in a note.

Powell will deliver a video address to the annual gathering on Thursday, which is taking place virtually this year. He’s expected to outline changes to the Fed’s policy framework that would allow inflation to run hotter than in the past, ending the Fed practice of hiking interest rates at the first whiff of rising price pressures.

Investors may also be looking for clues to the potential for additional action by the Fed in terms of monetary stimulus, particularly if the White House and congressional Democrats remain deadlocked on a new coronavirus aid package, Pissouros said.

A falling trend in the number of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. and optimism over prospects for a vaccine and other COVID-19 treatments have been credited with pushing stocks to new highs, but analysts said equities might struggle to extend the rise without fresh impetus. Some fear that investors are nearing a “euphoria” stage that could herald a near-term pullback.

See:The market is tuning out coronavirus, so stocks will head higher until there’s another reason to stop, one analyst says

The U.S. economic calendar on Wednesday features July data on durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were looking for a 4.8% rise after a 7.6% jump in June, while core orders was up 1.3% after a 3.4% June rise. Investors will also hear from Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin at 10 a.m. Eastern and San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly at 3:25 p.m. Eastern.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Inc. CRM, +3.64% surged more than 13% higher in premarket trade. The cloud-based customer-relationship-management company announced quarterly results late Tuesday that topped forecasts as its revenues hit $5 billion for the first time. Shares had jumped Tuesday after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that Salesforce would join the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the end of the month.
  • Autodesk Inc. ADSK, +0.17% shares were down 1% in premarket action, despite earnings and revenue that beat estimates.
  • Shares of Intuit Inc. INTU, +0.99% rose in premarket action after the maker of tax, accounting and small-business software said delayed tax-filing deadlines helped it top forecasts for its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue.
How are other markets trading?

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.714% TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.714% rose 3 basis points to 0.711%. Bond prices move inversely to yields.

Gold futures GCZ20, -0.06% rose 0.1% to $1,925.10 an ounce. Oil futures CL.1, -0.41% were off 0.5% but holding near five-month highs as Hurricane Laura moves through the Gulf of Mexico ahead of expected landfall on Thursday.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.15%, which tracks the currency versus a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1%.