By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
MADRID (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures stuck largely to the flat line on Tuesday, ahead of a barrage of speeches from Federal Reserve officials.
The dollar stayed firm and gold fell after a Group of Seven statement said members won’t target exchange rates.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (CBE:DJH3) rose 10 points to 13,934, while those for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (GLC:SPH3) inched up 0.6 point to 1,513.7. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (CME:NDH3) fell 1.25 points to 2,769.2.
Looking ahead to Obama’s State of the Union speech
Richard Norton Smith, presidential historian at the University of Kansas, joins The News Hub to preview of Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech from President Barack Obama.
The data calendar is light, with most investors looking ahead to retail-sales numbers due Wednesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday said its small-business optimism index edged up 0.9 point to 88.9 in January. See: NFIB small-business index edges up in January .
Several Fed officials are due to speak Tuesday, including Federal Reserve voting member Esther George at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, along with Charles Plosser and Jeffrey Lacker both at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. George was the lone “no” vote at the central bank’s meeting last month, on worries that the Fed is promoting bubbles and boosting inflation expectations. At 1:30 p.m. Eastern, the Atlanta Fed’s Dennis Lockhart will be speaking in Madrid. The Tell: What to watch on the U.S. economy on Tuesday .
After market close on Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address. “The markets want to see if there is anything new for the direction of the country and the economy,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of New York-based Sarhan Capital.
A lackluster tone in markets on Tuesday was no surprise given the previous session’s activity. What turned out to be the lightest volume trading day of the year so far left the Dow industrials (DJI:DJIA) down 21.73 points, or 0.2%, to finish Monday at 13,971.24. Read: Stocks end lower on year’s lightest volume .
“The pullbacks we’ve seen so far have been very, very mild and that in and of itself is healthy because it shows that sellers are nowhere to be seen. And it shows buyers are still clearly in control of this market,” Sarhan said.
On the corporate front, shares of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:KORS) jumped nearly 12% in premarket trading as it reported a surge in fiscal third-quarter earnings helped by sharply higher same-store sales and new stores added. Read: Michael Kors profit soars as sales surge
Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO) shares inched down. The beverage company said fourth-quarter earnings rose 13% as its case volume rose, while the impact of foreign exchange hurt revenue growth. Read: Coca-Cola net up 13% on higher case volume
On the geopolitical front, South Korean officials said North Korea had likely carried out a nuclear test after scientists detected an earthquake in the country. Read: North Korea conducts nuclear-weapons test: reports .
A brighter spot in overseas markets was the Nikkei 225 index (TYO:JP:100000018) , which closed up nearly 2% in holiday thinned-trading as a weaker yen drove up stocks. Deutsche Bank said the yen hit fresh multiyear lows after U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard suggested Washington won’t oppose moves to weaken the yen. Read: Dollar rises, with yen at fresh multiyear lows .
Finance ministers and central-bank governors issued a joint statement Tuesday that promised G-7 members won’t target exchange rates.
The move, which was expected ahead of this weekend’s G-20 meeting in Moscow, is aimed at calming tensions over a so-called global currency war. Read: G-7 says members won’t target exchange rates .