U.S. stock index futures are pointing to an indecisive opening, as investors consider remarks made by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in a dinnertime address Tuesday evening. Bernanke said the Fed would maintain its accommodative policy as long as necessary, but it appears that may not be enough to discourage the notion that the rally is due for a pause. The Dow comes off its first loss in four sessions, keeping alive its string of not rising for more than four days in a row since March.
Today marks another catchup day for economic reports delayed by the October government shutdown. At 8:30 a.m. ET, we'll be getting the October consumer price index as well as October retailer sales, followed at 10 a.m. ET by October business inventories. Economists are looking for an unchanged CPI with the ex-food and energy "core rate" rising 0.1 percent, and an unchanged performance for retail sales. Business inventories are seen rising 0.3 percent.
Regularly scheduled reports include a 10 a.m. ET release of existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. Consensus forecasts call for an October drop of 2.1 percent to an annual sales rate of 5.18 million units. We'll also see the weekly releases on mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 a.m. ET, and the Energy Department's assessment of oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.
At 2 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will be out with the minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
Earnings releases out this morning include the latest numbers from ADT (ADT), Deere & Co. (DE), J.C. Penney (JCP), Lowe's (LOW), J.M. Smucker, and Staples (SPLS). Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR) is among the companies out with quarterly earnings after today's closing bell, along with L Brands (LTD) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).
La-Z-Boy (LZB) is among our stocks to watch, reporting quarterly earnings of 30 cents per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by four cents. Revenue was well above consensus, and the furniture retailer also boosted its quarterly dividend by 50 percent to six cents per share.
Yahoo (YHOO) announced a $1 billion convertible note offering through a private placement, and also increased its stock buyback program by $5 billion.
Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) DePuy unit announced a $2.5 billion settlement related to defective hip implants. It covers about 8,000 patients.
Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) and Fidelity National Financial (FNF) are among new holdings disclosed by Third Point's Dan Loeb in a quarterly SEC filing.
Diageo (DEO) CEO Ivan Menezes said the beverage maker does not need to buy rival Beam (BEAM), because it is expanding its current whiskey offerings and launching new ones as well.