U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday, with investors finding few reasons to keep pushing shares higher following a lengthy rally that pushed the Dow and S&P 500 repeated highs.
Traders were also cautious as they digested comments from the Federal Reserve, a day after the U.S. central bank indicated it plans to deliver another rate increase in 2017.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ7, -0.11% shed 10 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,365, while those for the S&P 500 index ESZ7, -0.22% fell 1.20 points, or 0.1%, to 2,504. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NQZ7, -0.48% lost 3 points, or 0.1%, to 5,975.50.
Record closes: The indicated losses come after a volatile session on Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.53% ended marginally lower, but the Dow DJIA, -0.13% and S&P SPX, -0.28% managed to eke out small gains and end at record closing levels after trading lower earlier in the day. The Dow has risen for nine straight sessions while the S&P has risen in each of the past four sessions.
“Valuations are getting a little stretched, and it seems like there is some complacency in the markets,” said Wade Balliet, chief investment strategist at Bank of the West, who said his firm remained overweight on equities, although they had been taking profits by trimming their positions over the past 12 to 18 months. “Nothing has popped up as the next likely place where we could see a recession, but most countries are seeing growth, just not as strong as they would like.”
The Fed on Wednesday afternoon announced it would start to unwind its more than $4 trillion asset portfolio in October, for the first time in nine years, and indicated interests rates will go up in December.
“The Fed is telegraphing and being transparent with what it will do; I think the only way we’ll see a lot of volatility from this is if it gets more aggressive with the pace with which it reduces the balance sheet,” Balliet said.
The announcement sparked the biggest rally for the ICE dollar index DXY, -0.16% since January, according to FactSet, and the greenback inched higher on Thursday. The index rose slightly to 92.518. Against the yen USDJPY, +0.06% however, the buck jumped to ¥112.53, from ¥112.21 late Wednesday in New York. That move got a boost from the Bank of Japan’s decision to leave policy unchanged.
Gold prices slumped after the Fed decision, as the dollar rose and investors lost interest in nonyielding assets. December gold GCZ7, -1.60% on Thursday dropped 1.5% to 1,296.50 an ounce, on track for the lowest settlement in almost a month.
Economic news: In the latest economic data, jobless claims fell sharply in mid-September, reflecting fewer new claims than expected in Florida and Texas following a pair of destructive hurricanes. Separately, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index rose more than expected to a reading of 23.8, a three-month high, from 18.9 in August.
At 10 a.m. Eastern, a reading on leading economic indicators for August is due.
Stock movers: Shares of Calgon Carbon Corp. CCC, +61.74% soared 62% in premarket action after the maker of air- and water-purification products reached a $1.1 billion deal to be bought by Japan’s Kuraray 3405, +0.43%
In other corporate news, Alphabet Inc.’s Google GOOGL, -0.81% and HTC Corp. 2498, +2.51% announced a $1.1 billion cooperation agreement Wednesday night.
Other markets: Asian shares closed mixed as they reacted to the Fed decision, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index NIK, +0.18% getting a boost from the weaker yen to close higher. After regional markets closed, S&P Global Ratings cut its credit rating on China to ‘A+/A-1’.
The dollar rose against the Chinese yuan USDCNY, +0.2692% trading at 6.5919 yuan, compared with 6.5761 late Wednesday in New York.