US stock futures remain frozen near zero change

September 20, 2013 11:36 am

stockU.S. stock-index futures were little changed, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index poised for a third week of gains, as investors awaited speeches by Federal Reserve policy makers after the central bank unexpectedly refrained from reducing monetary stimulus this week.

S&P 500 futures expiring in December slipped less than 0.1% to 1,716.3 at 10:25 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge for U.S. equities has climbed 2% this week, reaching a record on Sept. 18. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 6 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,567.

Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard will later speak on the economy and monetary policy at a New York Association for Business Economic lunch.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota will separately give speeches today. George dissented for the sixth Federal Open Market Committee meeting in a row this week, repeating that the bank risks creating financial imbalances.

In corporate news, AK Steel sank 5.9% to $4.18 percent. The steelmaker predicted its loss in the third quarter will be 22 cents to 27 cents a share, which includes a 9-cent loss related to an furnace outage in Middletown, Ohio.

NetApp lost 0.9% to $43.94. Jason Ader, an analyst at William Blair, lowered his rating on the shares to “underperform”, the equivalent of “sell”, from market “perform”.

Microsoft Corp. shares are likely to be active following its analyst meeting late Thursday. The software giant didn’t provide further details on its search for a successor to Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who announced in August that he will retire within 12 months. Microsoft shares rose 1%.

Tesla Motors Inc. is likely to remain in the limelight after its stock rallied 7% and hit a record intraday high of $180.47 on Thursday. Dan Galves, lead analyst for Tesla at Deutsche Bank, raised Tesla’s price target to $200 and maintained his “buy” rating.

“As Tesla continues to execute to margin targets and demonstrate strong demand for their product, confidence in the late-decade volume, margin, and earnings estimates that justify upside to the current valuation will likely grow,” Galves said.

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