10-5-17 9:04 AM EDT | Email Article

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica

Constellation Brands and SeaWorld shares in focus

U.S. stock-index futures indicated a flat to slightly higher start for Wall Street on Thursday, potentially pushing major indexes to another round of records as investors await appearances by several Federal Reserve officials.

What are stock benchmarks doing?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 16 points to 22,623, while S&P 500 futures inched up 2 points to 2,538 and Nasdaq-100 futures added 18 points to 6,022. Both Dow and S&P 500 futures were up 0.1%, while Nasdaq futures gained 0.3%.

Stocks eked out records and extended a streak of advances on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-set-to-catch-their-breath-after-record-run-but-tesla-jumps-2017-10-04). The S&P 500 finished up 0.1% to a record of 2,537.74, the seventh-straight positive session. The Dow industrials closed up 0.1% to an all-time high of 22,661.57, while the Nasdaq Composite Index also rose 0.1% to 6,534.63.

What could drive markets?

In the latest economic data, initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-drop-12000-to-260000-as-disruptions-from-hurricanes-ease-2017-10-05) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-drop-12000-to-260000-as-disruptions-from-hurricanes-ease-2017-10-05) in the latest week. Separately, the U.S. trade deficit declined (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-trade-deficit-falls-to-11-month-low-2017-10-05) to its lowest level in 11 months.

Several Federal Reserve officials will make appearances on Thursday. Fed Gov. Jerome Powell will give a speech at the New York Fed on bond market regulation at 9:10 a.m. Eastern. Powell is among leading candidates to replace Janet Yellen (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jerome-powell-in-the-running-for-top-fed-spot-echoes-one-of-trumps-favorite-economic-themes-2017-10-03) as Fed chief when her term at the helm expires in February.

See:Stock market in wait-and-see mode as Trump mulls Fed chair nominee (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-market-in-wait-and-see-mode-as-trump-mulls-fed-chair-nominee-2017-10-04)

San Francisco Fed President John Williams will make a speech on community banking at the St. Louis Fed conference at 8:15 a.m. Eastern. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker will make a speech at a Fed conference in Austin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. Kansas City Fed President Esther George will speak at that same conference on 'job polarization and the U.S. labor market at that same conference at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

What are strategists saying?

-- "The path of least resistance for markets seems to be higher. Revisions on the earnings front have been positive, the global growth theme is continuing, and I think valuations are fine, given where we are in terms of inflation," said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management. "There are no classic signs of exuberance that would derail the market's trajectory, and I wouldn't be surprised to see multiples and earnings go higher, absent some crazy macro shock that no one can forecast."

See:Some investors see signs stock market 'on verge' of a melt-up (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-stocks-may-be-on-verge-of-a-melt-up-2017-10-04)

-- "With the dollar index at near two-month highs, it looks like the market is prepared to believe that the [Fed] committee remains committed to higher rates, even if they think current forecasts are a bit on the hawkish side," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. Beauchmap said sharp gains for the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-yardstick-of-us-manufacturers-touches-highest-level-since-2004-ism-finds-2017-10-02) and services (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-yardstick-of-us-manufacturers-touches-highest-level-since-2004-ism-finds-2017-10-02) indexes released this week may draw comment from Fed's Powell and Harker. Both sets of data provide rationale for further U.S. rate increases. Details on the Fed's balance-sheet unwind may also be offer, he said.

Which stocks are in focus?

United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) fell 2.3% in premarket trading, while FedEx Corp. (FDX) was down 2% after Bloomberg reported that Amazon.com Inc. was testing a new delivery service (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ups-fedex-stocks-fall-after-report-of-amazon-testing-new-delivery-service-2017-10-05)that could pose a competitive threat to the package shipping companies.

"These could continue to be volatile as investors worry whether they're the latest in a string of Amazon roadkill," Clark said.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.(SEAS) is up 6.2% premarket on news that Legoland parent Merlin Entertainments Inc.(MERL.LN) might buy part of the troubled water park operator (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/seaworld-surges-on-reports-of-possible-deal-with-legoland-owner-2017-10-05).

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/seaworld-surges-on-reports-of-possible-deal-with-legoland-owner-2017-10-05)Corona parent Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) is due to post earnings before the open, then Costco Wholesale Corp.(COST) reports after the close.

What are other assets doing?

European stocks traded mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-trade-mixed-as-investors-absorb-catalonia-developments-2017-10-05), while Spanish stocks rebounded after posting the biggest loss in 15 months on Wednesday. Spanish assets have been battered in recent days in the fallout from an independence vote from the Catalan region that turned violent.

Read:Catalonia's secession from Spain may come as soon as Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/catalonias-secession-from-spain-may-come-as-soon-as-monday-2017-10-04)

Asian markets traded mostly positive (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-swings-to-slight-gains-as-other-asian-markets-rise-2017-10-04), though several markets were shut for holidays.

Oil futures rose, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index eased back, and gold futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-tips-higher-aims-for-second-consecutive-gain-2017-10-05) advanced.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 05, 2017 09:04 ET (13:04 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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