The Fed stood pat on interest rates on Wednesday, but Chairwoman Janet Yellen indicated an interest rate hike is likely by year’s end as she expressed confidence in the U.S. economy.
S&P 500 futures ESZ6, +0.34% were up 5.55 points, or 0.3%, to 2,161.75 early Thursday, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMZ6, +0.36% rose 42 points, or 0.2%, to 18,260. Nasdaq-100 futures NQZ6, +0.37% gained 14 points, or 0.3%, to 4,864.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 SPX, +1.09% ended 1.1% higher, while the Dow DJIA, +0.90% gained 0.9%, or 164 points, as each gauge finished in the green for a second consecutive session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.03% tacked on 1% and scored a record closing high.
”The fact we saw no change [in U.S. interest rates] certainly gave equity markets something to cheer,” said Jamieson Blake, retail sales manager at ADS Securities, in note. A low-rate environment has been boosting stocks and other riskier assets for years.
“This upside did, however, appear to have been fully priced in by last night’s close, with Wall Street currently looking to start Thursday’s session little changed,” Blake added.
“The challenge is adjusting monetary policy before inflationary pressures come to bear,” he said. “With this in mind, we should expect even relatively minor numbers like the existing home sales ... to remain very much in focus.”
Read more: The Fed’s Yellen has missed her best chance to raise interest rates
Economic news: A release on weekly jobless claims is slated to hit at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with economists polled by MarketWatch forecasting 260,000 claims. An August report for the Chicago Fed’s national activity index is also due at that time.
August figures for existing home sales and leading indicators are expected at 10 a.m. Eastern, with economists predicting a reading of 5.48 million for the housing-related release.
Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar
Other markets: Oil futures US:CLV6 traded higher, helping sentiment. European stocks SXXP, +1.35% moved up, while Asia closed mostly higher. Gold futures GCZ6, +0.37% advanced, and a key dollar index DXY, -0.25% lost ground, as some analysts questioned the Fed’s credibility.
Individual movers: Shares in Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY, +0.14% look poised for a down day, after the home furnishings retailer’s stock fell late Wednesday as the company’s quarterly earnings missed forecasts.