Futures tick higher ahead of Bernanke testimony

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock futures edged up in thin trading Wednesday, ahead of highly anticipated Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the economy and monetary policy.

Bernanke is expected to strike a dovish tone when he addresses a congressional committee at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Earlier on Wednesday, influential New York Fed President William Dudley reinforced his own remarks Tuesday, when he damped speculation that the U.S. central bank was preparing to reduce its monetary stimulus.

The Fed's ultra loose monetary policy is one of the main forces behind a rally in U.S. equities markets that has taken the S&P 500 and Dow industrials to record highs this year. Dudley's speech Tuesday boosted U.S. stocks in afternoon trade.

S&P 500 futures rose 2 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 17 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5 points.

Shares of luxury department store chain Saks Inc jumped 18.1 percent in premarket trading after the New York Post, citing a source who had been briefed on the matter, reported that the company had hired Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale.

Lowe's Cos shares fell 3.4 percent in premarket trading after the second-largest home improvement chain reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit, hurt by colder-than-usual weather at the start of the spring selling season and strong competition from larger rival Home Depot .

Toll Brothers shares rose 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder posted a 46 percent rise in quarterly profit, suggesting the housing recovery is picking up pace across the industry.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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