×

Futures Higher on PPI, Momentum From Fed

Stock index futures were pointing to a positve St. Patrick's Day market open, as a drop in producer prices confirmed the view that inflation poses little threat to the economy.

The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted index for prices paid at the farm and factory gate fell 0.6 percent, the largest decline since July, following a 1.4 percent rise in January.

Futures indicated a modest rise, in keeping with the tepid but consistent gains the market has shown for the past week.

Wall Street is coming off a session that saw the Nasdaq close at its highest since Aug. 28, 2008 and the S&P reach its highest closing mark since October 1, 2008.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is back in the spotlight, testifying before Congress on why the Fed should keep the powers it currently has in any financial regulation reform. That comes a day after the Fed's policy statement that retained the "exceptionally low rates for an extended period" language.

That language notwithstanding, a new Reuters poll does show 59 percent of banks predicting that the Fed will raise rates sometime before the end of this year.

It's an extremely light day on the earnings calendar but one report of note will come after the bill, when athletic footwear and apparel maker Nike issues its quarterly numbers.

Microsoft may be a stock to watch after the company lost a $106 million patent verdict in a case involving internet communication methods. Microsoft does say it will appeal.

The war of words between the U.S. and China over the yuan continues, with Chinese officials saying they "could not be any clearer" in their repeated commitment to a stable exchange rate. That comes after Congress threatened to levy duties on Chinese exports unless the currency is revalued.

And the Bank of Japan has eased monetary policy by doubling the amount of money available to banks for three-month loans. The move came in a split vote.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.