US markets to follow Fed minutes, Yellen speech

May 21, 2014

New York (May 21)  U.S. stock index futures signaled a higher open despite concerns about weak U.S. earnings and uncertainty regarding global central bank action.

At 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting will be released, with investors eager to find more clues as to when the Fed might look to hike interest rates. These will come after the Bank of England published minutes which showed some members had moved closer to voting for a rate rise.

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said rate hikes might come sooner than expected. Staples and other retailers also offered disappointing quarterly results which weighed on sentiment.

"Consumer sentiment globally is just starting to slip, after having run up very solidly over the past three to four months, and it this now shifting to discretionary earnings," Evan Lucas, a market strategist at brokerage IG said in a morning note.

"The slide in retail earnings in the U.S. is the first sign that things are slowing as the Fed's asset purchase program is unwound and the hot money slows," he added.

More retail earnings are due on Wednesday, with Lowe's, Target, American Eagle Outfitters and Tiffany reporting before Wall Street opens.

In addition, Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a speech at New York University at 11:30 a.m.

Other data out on Wednesday includes MBA's weekly mortgage index at 7 a.m. and the weekly crude inventories at 2:30 p.m.

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