Stock index futures were flat on Wednesday as investors digested recent gains and awaited a new round of key U.S. economic data, though Amazon surged after its earnings results.
Equities have soared in recent weeks, with the S&P 500 rising for nine of the past 10 sessions. The Dow Jones industrial average has been flirting with 14,000, a level it hasn't seen since October 2007. Many analysts have said markets may need to take a pause at current levels.
Amazon.com Inc was the latest high-profile name to rally after results, rising 8.8 percent to $283.30 in premarket trading after the online retailer late on Tuesday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and posted revenue that jumped 22 percent.
Investors are looking ahead to a first read on fourth-quarter economic growth, with the release of gross domestic product data at 8:30 a.m. Analysts see a 1.1 percent annualized pace of growth, down from the 3.1 percent in the third quarter.
Growth likely slowed in the quarter on the impact of superstorm Sandy, as well as uncertainty stemming from the "fiscal cliff" debate in Washington, D.C.
Traders will also look to the January ADP employment report, which is expected to show 165,000 private-sector jobs were created in the month, down from 215,000 in December. The report precedes the closely watched nonfarm payroll report on Friday, which is expected to show modest but steady job growth.
Dow component Boeing Co is on tap to report, and the results will be scoured not only for details about the company's recent difficulties with its Dreamliner passenger jet, but also about the industrial space. Facebook Inc reports results after the market closes.
Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 174 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings this season, 68.4 percent have been above analyst expectations, which is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.
S&P 500 futures fell 0.3 point but remained 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 were flat and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.5 points.
The S&P has been hovering around 1,500, a level market technicians say is an inflection point that will determine the overall direction in the near term. The benchmark index is on track to post its best monthly performance since October 2011 as investors poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record.
The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday, and while the central bank is expected to keep monetary policy on a steady path, intensive debates continue behind the scenes over when the controversial bond-buying program should be curtailed.
U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, led by defensive sectors, in a sign the cash piles recently moving into the market are being put to use by cautious investors to pick up more gains.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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