Stock futures little changed before flurry of data

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 | Finance News

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 may hold near its most recent record high ahead of a glut of economic reports, including data on inflation and manufacturing.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 rallied to a fresh record high on Tuesday, buoyed by gains in large-cap shares, on investor expectations central bank stimulus measures will continue to support further equity market gains.

The S&P 500 <.spx> is up 15.7 percent for the year, while the Dow <.dji> has jumped 16.1 percent.</.dji></.spx>

"We are in the best of all worlds right now - we have an economy that is running not too cold, not too hot, growing modestly," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"We have no inflation and we have low interest rates and I suspect we are going to still get stimulus until the end of the year; that just bodes well for the longevity of the bull."

Economic data expected at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) includes the producer price index for April. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.6 percent drop, the same as in March. Excluding volatile food and energy items, PPI is expected to rise 0.1 percent versus with a 0.2 percent increase in March.

Also at 8:30 a.m., the New York Federal Reserve releases its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for May. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a reading of 4.00 compared with 3.05 in April.

At 9:15 a.m. EDT, the Federal Reserve releases industrial production and capacity utilization data for April. Forecasts call for a 0.2 percent drop in production and a reading of 78.3 percent for capacity utilization.

S&P 500 futures slipped 1.2 points and were roughly even with 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 dipped 3 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 0.75 point.

Investors will also eye housing data at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) for signs of continued improvement, with the release of the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index for May. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 43 versus 42 in April.

An improving housing market has been seen as a tailwind to the economic recovery.

Deere & Co fell 4.3 percent to $89.75 in premarket trading after the agricultural equipment maker reported higher quarterly earnings and forecast a record profit for the full year, but warned "global financial pressures as well as adverse weather patterns" made it cautious about its outlook.

U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion shed 3.1 percent to $14.78 in premarket trading after Bernstein cut its rating on the Blackberry maker to "market perform."

European shares hit more multi-year highs after data showing the euro zone remains stuck in recession fueled expectations central banks will keep flooding markets with liquidity. <.eu></.eu>

Data showed Germany's economy grew just 0.1 percent in the first quarter, while France entered a shallow recession, contracting by 0.2 percent, more than economists had expected.

Japan's Nikkei share average surged to a 5-1/2-year high as Japanese exporters rallied after the yen's recent slide.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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