(RTTNews) - With traders looking ahead to monetary policy decisions from both sides of the Atlantic, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Tuesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 24 points.
Extending the trend seen in the previous session, many traders are likely to stay on the sidelines as the Federal Reserve begins a two-day monetary policy meeting.
The Fed is due to announce its latest monetary policy decision on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank is due to hold a monetary policy meeting on Thursday.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "For the next two days we'll sit and wait for what the Fed will tell us they'll do next as patience and sitting still are not virtues of theirs."
"But, Mario Draghi and the ECB last week stole the thunder and took the microphone away from the Fed, making Thursday's ECB meeting much more relevant to markets," he added.
Additionally, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched monthly employment report on Friday.
Nonetheless, there is a slew of economic data scheduled to be released this morning, including a report recently released by the Commerce Department showing that U.S. personal spending unexpectedly came in unchanged in June.
The report showed that personal spending was roughly flat in June after edging down by 0.1 percent in May. Economists had been expecting spending to creep up by 0.1 percent.
At the same time, the Commerce Department said that personal income increased by 0.5 percent in June following a 0.3 percent increase in May. The increase in income exceeded economist estimates for 0.4 percent growth.
Reports on consumer confidence and Chicago-area business activity are scheduled to be released later in the morning, although reaction to the data is likely to be somewhat subdued.
On the earnings front, drug giant Pfizer (PFE) reported second quarter earnings that rose year-over-year and came in above analyst estimates. The company also reported revenues that exceeded expectations.
Aetna (AET) also reported better than expected second quarter earnings and raised its full-year guidance. On the heels of the news, shares of Aetna are up by 3.7 percent in pre-market trading.
Meanwhile, shares of Humana (HUM) are likely to come under pressure after the health insurer reported second quarter earnings that fell by more than expected and lowered its full-year guidance.
Stocks turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Monday before ending the session modestly lower. With traders looking ahead to the key events later in the week, the market was unable to find any significant momentum.
After failing to sustain an early upward move, the major averages ended the day modestly below the unchanged line. The Dow edged down 2.65 points or less than 0.1 percent to 13,073.01, the Nasdaq slid 12.25 points or 0.4 percent to 2,945.84 and the S&P 500 dipped 0.67 points or 0.1 percent to 1,385.30.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index has edged up by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.7 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.39 to $90.17 a barrel after sliding $0.35 to $89.78 a barrel on Monday. Gold futures are rising $7.30 to $1,631.30 an ounce. In the previous session, the precious metal edged up $1.30 to $1,624 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 78.16 yen compared to the 78.18 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Monday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2315 compared to yesterday's $1.2260.
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