All things considered, the pre-market tone has been quite subdued this morning. To be clear, though, it hasn't been negative, which is saying something as the major indices trade at, or near, record highs in front of Wednesday's important FOMC meeting.
The latter is probably the main reason why there isn't much conviction at the moment.
Market participants have shifted into a wait-and-see mode following a nice run last week that continued on Monday with modest gains. At the same time, President Trump is slated to speak before the UN today and there is some uncertainty ahead of time about the tone and direction he will take with his remarks.
Currently, the S&P futures are up one point, the Nasdaq 100 futures are up three points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are up 10 points.
Much of the market's attention this morning has been on the economic data, although it can be said that it isn't undivided attention.
Other news items sucking some mental energy include reports that the GOP is taking another stab at trying to propose an Obamacare replacement plan, that the Senate GOP's thinking on tax reform might not be as overarching as some proponents would like, better-than-expected earnings results from AutoZone (AZO), and Post Holdings's (POST) offer to acquire Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) for approximately $1.5 billion or $77.00 per share.
There are numerous other news items, yet nothing is of the market-moving variety.
In terms of today's data, it was a bit mixed.
Housing Starts for August declined 0.8% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.180 million (Briefing.com consensus 1.170) from an upwardly revised 1.190 million for July (from 1.155 million). Building permits jumped 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.300 million from an upwardly revised 1.230 million for July (from 1.223 million).
The strength in permits was owed to multi-family permits. Single-family permits declined 1.5%. Conversely, a 1.6% increase in single-family starts helped offset a 6.5% decline in multi-unit starts.
The key takeaway from the report is that the pace of single-family starts isn't quick enough to alleviate the supply pressures in the housing market that are crimping affordability for prospective homeowners. That isn't expected to improve next month either when the force of the impact from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will hit housing starts activity.
Separately, the key takeaway from the Import-Export Price Index report for August is that it will keep the possibility of a December rate hike on the table.
Import prices increased 0.6%, which was the largest increase since January and left import prices up 2.1% year-over-year. Excluding fuel, import prices increased 0.3% and were up 1.0% year-over-year versus down 0.9% for the 12 months ending August 2016.
Export prices also increased 0.6%, which was the largest increase since June 2016 and left export prices up 2.3% year-over-year. Excluding agriculture, export prices jumped 0.7% and were up 2.4% year-over-year versus down 2.3% for the 12 months ending August 2016.
The second quarter current account deficit, meanwhile, widened to $123.1 billion (Briefing.com consensus -$115.1 billion) from a revised $113.5 billion deficit (from -$116.6 billion) in the first quarter.
There was little reaction in the futures market to the data and the same holds true for the Treasury market. The 10-year note is up ticks and its yield is down one basis point to 2.22%.