Futures Flat After Economic Reports, Ahead of Fed Minutes
U.S. stock index futures briefly dipped Wednesday following a weaker-than-expected housing starts report, but rebounded into positive territory ahead of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting and a day after all three major averages closed at fresh multi-year highs.
Stocks rose closer to all-time highs on Tuesday, with the Dow within 1 percent of its all-time closing high of 14,164.53 hit on October 9, 2007. So far, the Dow and S&P 500 have gained an impressive 7 percent since the beginning of the year.
"Not enough has changed to expect any notable difference in FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] views, although there may be some comment over balance sheet expansion size and the need for close scrutiny in order to manage risks," wrote Derek Halpenny, the European head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.
(Read More: Fed Message Will Be Dovish Despite Ruffled Feathers)
Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist at Capital Economics, said the minutes will be scrutinized for any indications of when the Fed will cease QE3 asset purchases.
"The December statement noted that the monthly $85 billion purchases will end only when the outlook for the labor market has improved 'substantially'. What exactly that means is still open to debate," said Ashworth. "In addition, it will be interesting to see how officials responded to the news that fourth-quarter GDP [gross domestic product] contracted slightly."
(Read More: Cramer: This Is a 'Great Gatsby' Market)
On the economic front, housing starts tumbled 8.5 percent in January to a 890,000-unit annual rate, though new permits for construction jumped to a 4-1/2 year high, according to the Commerce Department.
Producer prices rose 0.2 percent in January, gaining for the first time in four months, according to the Labor Department, giving the Federal Reserve room to maintain its accomodative monetary policy.
Weekly mortgage applications declined for a second week as refinancing and loan requests slipped last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Meanwhile, Office Depot's deal for rival OfficeMax is said to have been announced prematurely with sources familiar with the matter saying the Office Depot's terms were not final, according to the New York Time's Dealbook.
Garmin tumbled after the GPS maker posted weaker-than-expected earnings and forecast full-year results below Wall Street estimates.
Yahoo edged higher after the company announced it is rolling out a new look for its website over the next few days. The newsfeed format containing stories, pictures or video will be similar to social-media feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that a British-based private equity consortium is preparing a 3.5 billion euro ($4.7) billion bid for French catering company Elior, in what could be the biggest buyout in continental Europe since Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.
The Bank of England surprised markets earlier on Wednesday when it released minutes from its January meeting which showed three members had voted in favor of restarting bond purchases. The pound fell to an eight-and-a-half month low against the dollar on the news.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
WEDNESDAY: FOMC minutes, Sony Playstation event; Earnings from Cheesecake Factory, Tesla Motors
THURSDAY: Consumer price index, jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, natural gas inventories, oil inventories, Fed's Bullard speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Fed's Fisher speaks, weekly rail numbers; Earnings from Wal-Mart, Chesapeake Energy, Hormel, Safeway, AIG, Hewlett-Packard, Cabot Oil & Gas, Newmont Mining, Nordstrom
FRIDAY: Fed's Powell speaks, Wynn shareholders meeting; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Washington Post
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