Following Wednesday's sharp drop in the final minutes, the S&P 500 futures are trading slightly higher this morning -- up 0.2% -- as investors continue to digest yesterday's policy statement from the Federal Reserve, which included a rate hike of 25 basis points. For the week, the S&P 500 enters today's session down 0.8%.
The focus yesterday was on the Fed's removal of the word 'accommodative' from its policy statement, which led some to believe that the central bank could be moving towards slowing monetary tightening. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell followed up by saying the language change didn't signal a change in the Fed's path for rate hikes.
As for today, volume might be lighter-than-usual as many market participants will likely be tuning in to the Brett Kavanaugh hearing on Capitol Hill.
Christine Ford has accused Judge Kavanaugh, who is President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, of sexually assaulting her back in high school, which Mr. Kavanaugh has denied. Ms. Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10:00 AM ET, followed by a testimony from Mr. Kavanaugh.
Investors received a big batch of economic data earlier this morning that included Durable Goods Orders for August, the third estimate for Q2 GDP, weekly Initial Claims, and advance readings for August International Trade in Goods, Retail Inventories, and Wholesale Inventories:
- August durable goods orders rose 4.5% (Briefing.com consensus +1.8%), and the prior month's reading was revised to -1.2% (from -1.7%). Excluding transportation, durable orders increased 0.1% (Briefing.com consensus +0.4%) to follow the prior month's unrevised reading of +0.2%.
- The third estimate of second quarter GDP pointed to an expansion of 4.2% (Briefing.com consensus 4.3%), unchanged from the second estimate.
- The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 214,000, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 209,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 202,000 (from 201,000). As for continuing claims, they rose to 1.661 million from an unrevised count of 1.645 million.
- The Advance report for International Trade in Goods for August showed a deficit of $75.8 billion (Briefing.com consensus -$71.0 billion). Meanwhile, the Advance report for Wholesale Inventories for August showed an increase of 0.8%, and the Advance report for Retail Inventories for August showed an increase of 0.7%.
Today's last economic report, Pending Home Sales for August (Briefing.com consensus -0.4%), will be released at 10:00 AM ET.
U.S. Treasuries are flat this morning after rallying following the release of the Fed's policy statement on Wednesday, with the benchmark 10-yr yield unchanged at 3.06%. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index is up 0.5% at 94.32, and WTI crude futures are up 1.2% at $72.44/bbl, which marks their best level since early July.