US STOCKS-Futures flat as data, Fed minutes awaited

Rodrigo Campos
Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 | 8:12 AM ET

* J.C. Penney shares jump after results

* Priceline stock up on Goldman bullish view

* Futures: Dow off 10 pts, S&P down 1 pt, Nasdaq up 2 pts

NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed Wednesday ahead of the release of stimulus-sensitive inflation data and the minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy-setting meeting.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech late Tuesday that echoed dovish comments by his nominated successor, Janet Yellen, said the U.S. central bank will maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy for as long as needed. The policy has been a pillar of the current rally in equities.

Minutes from the Fed's late October meeting will be released at 2:00 p.m. (1900 GMT).

The U.S. Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for October at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). Economists surveyed by Reuters expect an unchanged reading compared with a 0.2 percent rise in September. Excluding food and energy, CPI is expected to have risen 0.1 percent, the same gain as in September.

"It's a big day for data. The Fed seems to be concentrating on inflation and we'll get some of those numbers today," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

She said an indication of subdued inflation could help keep Fed stimulus in place well into 2014.

Real earnings and retail sales for October are also expected at 8:30 a.m. while September business inventories are due at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT).

S&P 500 futures fell 1 point and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 10 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2 points.

Deere & Co reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2014 earnings above estimates. Its shares gained 4 percent in premarket trading.

Shares of home improvement chain Lowe's fell 2.9 percent in premarket trading after it reported a rise in quarterly profit that slightly missed analysts' expectations.

J.C. Penney gained 6 percent premarket after it reported a deeper net loss but said sales were "encouraging" in November so far.

Priceline rose 2.5 percent in light premarket trading after Goldman Sachs added the stock to its "conviction buy" list.

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