U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, after equities rose the most in a month, as investors awaited reports on the world's largest economy to gauge the strength of the recovery.
Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) expiring in December slipped less than 0.1% to 2,064.9 at 10:35 a.m. in London. The underlying gauge added 0.6% yesterday as U.S. construction spending data beat forecasts and biotechnology companies rallied. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts fell 9 points, or 0.1%, to 17,853.
The S&P 500 has climbed for six Decembers in a row, posting an average return of 2.2%. It is 0.3% below a record reached on Nov. 28 as weaker Black Friday sales and oil prices dragged stocks lower. The gauge has still rebounded 11% from a low in October amid optimism the economy is strong enough to withstand tighter monetary policy after the Federal Reserve wound up its asset-purchase program.
“Investors are looking for some direction and affirmation that the recovery is continuing,” said Justin Urquhart Stewart, who helps oversee about $7 billion at Seven Investment Management LLP in London. “They are looking for sign posts after the Black Friday retail figures being weaker than expected. If the figures are more positive that will be a boost, especially to those domestic companies.”
A report from the ADP Research Institute at 8:15 a.m. New York time may show U.S. companies added fewer workers in November, while a release at 10 a.m. in Washington will probably show service industries expanded at a faster pace last month, economists predicted. The Labor Department releases its payrolls data on Friday.
The Fed will release its Beige Book at 2 p.m. local time. The survey, based on reports from its 12 regional banks, will provide anecdotal information about the economy before the Fed's Dec. 16-17 policy meeting.
JC Penney Co. dropped 2.7% to $7.19 in early New York trading after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. downgraded the shares to sell from neutral, citing limited potential for further stock gains.
Taser International Inc., which sells body-worn cameras, dropped 3.6% to $22.50 after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its recommendation on the shares to neutral from overweight, similar to buy. The stock yesterday surged to an almost 10-year high as U.S. President Barack Obama sought a $263 million community policing package that included supplying body cameras for officers.