LONDON, Aug 16 (AP): US stock futures failed to generate much momentum Wednesday, as traders bet that consumer-level inflation data due later could only spell bad news for markets after Tuesday's rally.
Dow Jones futures were recently up 2.0 points, S&P 500 futures inched up 0.1 of a point, and Nasdaq futures edged off 0.5 of a point.
US stocks ended higher Tuesday, with the S&P 500 at its best level in 2 ½ months, as a tame inflation report allayed fears of further interest rate hikes to come, and shifted the focus away from concerns over slowing economic growth. The Dow industrials jumped 132 points, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also rallied.
After Tuesday's producer-price data surprise, markets will be focusing on consumer price data due at 8:30am EDT.
July consumer prices are forecast rising 0.4 per cent, or up 0.3 per cent for the core measure that excludes food and energy prices, according to economists polled by MarketWatch.
"If anything, today can only hold disappointment," said Anais Faraj, a strategist at Nomura International in London. "A soft CPI will reassert the Fed is on hold, which is pretty much priced in. If not, you'll see a correction in the market."
Besides CPI statistics, numbers on housing starts, industrial production and capacity utilisation also are due.
Crude-oil futures edged 28 cents lower to $72.81 a barrel ahead of weekly inventory statistics.
Of companies in focus, cosmetics firm Estee Lauder is due to report quarterly earnings after a recent stock price pullback in the wake of tighter security rules in US and UK airports.
After the close, Hewlett-Packard is due to report results. Analysts are expecting the computer maker run by Mark Hurd to report a 32 per cent increase in its earnings per share, and a 5 per cent growth in revenue.
Late Tuesday, Applied Materials reported a stronger-than-forecast 39 per cent profit rise. The chip equipment maker said it benefited from a wave of factories coming online and the proliferation of consumer electronic devices.
Abercrombie & Fitch is due to rally after reporting a better-than-forecast 14 per cent profit rise, with the teen clothing retailer also bettering Wall Street's 2006 guidance.
In overseas markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 shot up 1.6 per cent, getting a lift from the producer price data released after the Tokyo close.
European stock markets traded in a tight range ahead of the US CPI data.