Wall Street futures flat as investors weigh grim data, await Fed's next steps

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(Reuters) – Futures tied to the S&P 500 were little changed on Wednesday after bleak consumer confidence data provided a sobering view on the health of the economy, while investors held back ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech this week.

With the COVID-19 pandemic far from over and little signs of progress between U.S. lawmakers over the next rescue package, all eyes will be on Powell’s address at the virtual Jackson Hole symposium on Thursday for an update on the Fed’s stance.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit a series of record closing highs recently, driven by stimulus and demand for tech-focused stocks, even as economic data reflected an uneven recovery from a recession. A survey on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer confidence was at a six-year low in August.

Salesforce.com Inc (N:CRM), which is set to enter the blue-chip Dow index (DJI) next week, provided some succor with a 13.2% jump premarket after the cloud software maker raised its annual revenue forecast on surging demand for its online business software.

At 6:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were down 45 points, or 0.16%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.01% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 38 points, or 0.32%.

Nordstrom Inc (N:JWN) tumbled 5.9% after reporting a bigger-than-expected loss, as its stores were shuttered for about half of the reported quarter and consumers stayed home with little need for designer clothes.