Equity futures are pointing to a slightly higher open for the stock market this morning following a mixed performance in Asia and amid an upbeat performance in Europe. The most notable item on today's calendar is the 14:00 ET release of the minutes from the July 25-26 FOMC meeting. The S&P 500 futures currently trade six points, or 0.2%, above fair value.
Investors will be analyzing the minutes from the July 25-26 FOMC meeting closely this afternoon, looking for clues as to when the Fed might begin reducing its massive balance sheet. In addition, any language surrounding inflation will be of interest as its stubbornness to pick up may force the U.S. central bank to settle for just two rate hikes this year instead of the three that it had originally planned for.
If the Fed hikes rates again this year, it will almost certainly be at the December FOMC meeting. The fed funds futures market currently assigns an implied probability of 46.7% to a December rate hike.
U.S. Treasuries are trading flat this morning with the benchmark 10-yr yield unchanged at 2.28%. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index (93.89, +0.14) holds a modest gain of 0.2%. The greenback has climbed 0.2% against the euro to 1.1707 following news that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will not discuss monetary policy at next week's Jackson Hole symposium.
Crude oil is up 0.1% this morning, hovering at a price of $47.59/bbl, after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a draw of 9.2 million barrels for the week ended August 11. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its official weekly inventory report at 10:30 ET with the consensus calling for a drop of around 3.0 million barrels.
In corporate news, retailers are in focus once again following the latest earnings reports from Target (TGT 56.25, +1.95) and Urban Outfitters (URBN 20.30, +3.48). TGT is up 3.6% after reporting better than expected earnings and an increase of 1.3% in comparable same-store sales. Meanwhile, URBN has done even better, spiking 20.9%, after reporting better than expected earnings and revenues.
On the data front, Housing starts decreased to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.155 million units in July, down from a revised 1.213 million units in June (from 1.215 million). The Briefing.com consensus expected starts to increase to 1.217 million units.
Building permits decreased to a seasonally adjusted 1.223 million in July from a revised 1.275 million in June (from 1.245 million). The Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 1.247 million.