US stock-index futures advance amid Yellen comments on stimulus

US stock-index futures gained, signaling the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will extend its all-time high, as Janet Yellens comments let investors speculate that she plans to continue the Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in December added 0.2% to 1,781.7 at 11:39 a.m. in London. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a records yesterday. Contracts on the Dow added 42 points, or 0.3%, to 15,821 today. Nasdaq index slumped 0.3% to 3,392 after yesterdays jump of 1.2%.

According to Yellen “we (USA) have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession.”

“Her comments will be widely interpreted as dovish by the market, spurring the bulls into action. Traders feel that ahead of the (delivery of) prepared comments by Yellen, ramping up risk appetite is an appropriate response, particularly after weakness across global markets in recent sessions,” said Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at ETX Capital cited by Wall Street Journal.

Data report released today showed the Japanese economy expanded at an annualized pace of 1.9% in the three-month period ended in September, beating analyst expectations of a 1.7% reading. Asia markets closed higher.

Most investors still believe Fed policy makers will pare the monthly pace of bond buying to $70 billion at their March 18-19 meeting, and not on their next meeting scheduled in December 17-18.

In corporate world, Viacom Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Nordstrom Inc. are among eight members of the S&P 500 reporting today.

Walmart Stores is forecast to post third-quarter earnings of $1.13 a share, according to FactSet survey. Analysts at Susquehanna believe investors should lower their expectations on the retailer going into the fourth quarter, given food-stamp spending cuts, a highly promotional holiday season and ongoing economic challenges for mid- and low-end consumers.

Cisco Systems Inc. declined 11% in pre-trade after the networking giant late Wednesday said its fiscal first-quarter profit fell to $2 billion, or 37 cents a share, from $2.1 billion, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. It also warned that its annual profit may drop this year due to emerging markets weak sales.

NetApp gained 1% to $41.70 in late New York trading yesterday. Second-quarter adjusted earnings at the data-storage company rose to 66 cents a share, more than the average analyst estimate of 63 cents a share.

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