The S&P 500 slipped on Wednesday and looks poised to crawl another tick lower at the opening bell, as the S&P 500 futures are trading two points, or 0.1%, below fair value. Still, the S&P 500 remains within striking distance of its January 26 record close, hovering roughly 0.4% below that record mark of 2872.87.
Equities were on a four-session winning streak before Wednesday's minor setback, which was prompted by the political uncertainty surrounding President Trump after his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted of tax and bank fraud and after his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to a range of charges, adding that Mr. Trump directed him to pay two women hush money.
Also keeping buyers at bay is the implementation of another round of tariffs on Chinese imports -- this one targeting $16 billion worth of products -- which went into effect at midnight despite a two-day summit that's currently taking place in Washington between U.S. and Chinese officials. Talks will wrap up today, but President Trump noted that he isn't expecting much to come from them.
The Fed released the minutes from the July/August FOMC meeting on Wednesday afternoon, which only added to the expectation that the U.S. central bank will hike rates at its September meeting. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will be speaking from Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday, capping an annual summit for central bankers and economist from around the world.
On the data front, the latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 210,000, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 217,000. Today's tally was below the unrevised prior week count of 212,000. As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.727 million from a revised count of 1.729 million (from 1.721 million).
In addition, the FHFA Housing Price Index for July will be released at 9:00 ET, and July New Home Sales (Briefing.com consensus 645K) will be released at 10:00 ET.
Retailers dominated the earnings front once again this morning, with L Brands (LB), Williams-Sonoma (WSM), and The Children's Place (PLCE) reporting their quarterly results. WSM shares and PLCE shares are up 7.1% and 1.8%, respectively, in pre-market trading, while LB shares are lower by 6.9%.