Stocks and Markets in the News | U.S. Futures Indications -Wednesday, August 15 2012 - : Stock futures edge lower as traders eye data

By William L. Watts, MarketWatch 

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch)U.S. stock index futures traded slightly lower Wednesday as investors awaited inflation data and other economic figures, but strategists said markets may struggle for direction 

ahead of a high-profile gathering of Federal Reserve officials and others in Wyoming at the end of the month.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJU2 -0.16% lost 16 points, or 0.1%, to 13,117. 

S&P 500 Index futures SPU2 -0.16% shed 2.9 points, or 0.2%, to 1,398.70, while Nasdaq 100 futures NDU2 -0.10% slid 4.5 points to 2,722.25. 


Investors put money down under Investors around the world are buying up Australian government bonds, lured by the country's triple-A credit rating. 

Markets have remained calm amid low volume in recent weeks, noted strategists at Barclays.
“We think this calm may last a few more days but see scope for volatility to pick up due to important 
upcoming events. The Jackson Hole meeting and the next [nonfarm payrolls] could turn into key triggers for market participants to re-engage,” they said, in a research note. 

Equity bulls are looking to the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., as a potential platform for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to signal that a further round of monetary stimulus is imminent. 

Bernanke, in a speech at the symposium in 2010, signaled that a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, was on its way.
Somewhat stronger-than-expected July payrolls data and a rebound in July retail sales, however, are crimping expectations Bernanke will use his Aug. 31 appearance at this year’s symposium to lay the groundwork for QE3, analysts said. 

Meanwhile, investors may continue to gauge U.S. data in terms of whether it makes additional easing more or less likely.
The July Consumer Price Index is set for release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch produced a consensus forecast fora 0.2% monthly rise after a flat reading in June. Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, is also forecast to rise 0.2% after a 0.2% rise the previous month. 

The New York Fed’s Empire State index for August is also set for release at 8:30 a.m., while July industrial production data is on tap for 9:15 a.m. and the home builders’ index is set for 10 a.m. 

On the earnings front, results are expected ahead of the opening bell from farm-equipment maker Deere & Co. DE +0.46% and clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ANF -0.43% .

Quarterly equity-holdings reports filed by institutional investment managers showed that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.A -0.0039% BRK.B -0.06% sold all shares of Intel Corp. INTC -0.79% and bought shares of Phillips 66 PSX -0.55% and National Oilwell Varco Inc. NOV -0.27% .
It also added to stakes in Wells Fargo & Co. WFC 0.00% and reported lower stakes in Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.26% and Kraft Foods Inc. KFT -0.24%

European shares drifted lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index XX:SXXP -0.24% losing 0.2%. See: Europe stocks off as easing expectations wane

Asian stocks ended mostly lower, pressured by fading expectations for central-bank stimulus to support the global economy. Read: Asia stocks fall as stimulus hopes fade  
.
Nymex crude oil futures CLU2 -0.27% fell 10 cents to $93.33 a barrel. Gold futures GCZ2 -0.36% shed $5.50 to $1,596.90 an ounce.
The dollar index DXY +0.20% , which measures the U.S. unit against a basket of six major rivals slipped to 82.534 versus 82.540 in North American trade late Tuesday.
The euro EURUSD -0.34% traded at $1.2332, up from $1.2327. The dollar bought 78.96 yen, up from ¥78.74 on Tuesday. 

William L. Watts is MarketWatch's European bureau chief, based in Frankfurt.

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