Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Tuesday as investors found little reason to keep pushing shares higher after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sparked a rally.
Bernanke signaled that supportive monetary policy will remain even though the job picture has begun to improve, reinforcing the view that further quantitative easing from the Fed may be possible.
The S&P has gained 12.6 percent so far this year, suggesting further upside could be limited. The nearly 6-month rally has come partly after accommodative measures by central banks around the world.
We've rallied quite a bit for the past couple of months, and yesterday we rallied on Bernanke, so after all that I expect a very flat and quiet market until the end of the quarter, said Jerome Heppelmann, chief investment officer at Old Mutual Focused Fund in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
Friday is the final trading day of the first quarter, and the S&P is on track for its biggest 3-month gain since 2009.
U.S. single-family home prices were unchanged in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, suggesting the battered housing market continued to crawl along the bottom. Equities barely budged after the data.
Homebuilder Lennar Corp
A report on March consumer confidence will be released at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) and is seen edging lower to 70.3 from 70.8 in the previous month.
S&P 500 futures fell 0.6 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 fell 4 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.75 point.
Apollo Group Inc
Ista Pharmaceuticals Inc
The S&P 500 rebounded from its worst week so far this year to retake a four-year high on Monday after the comments from Bernanke. All 10 S&P 500 sectors rose.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)