RTTNews - After ending the previous session modestly higher, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday, as traders digest some key economic data. The major index futures are currently indicating a roughly flat open for the markets.
Traders are digesting a report from the Commerce Department showing a much bigger than expected increase in durable goods orders in the month of July, with the growth largely due to a substantial rebound in orders for transportation equipment
The report showed that new orders for durable goods jumped 4.9 percent in July following a revised 1.3 percent decrease in June. Economists had expected orders to increase by 3.2 percent compared to the 2.2 percent decrease that had been reported for the previous month.
Excluding an 18.4 percent increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders increased by a much more modest 0.8 percent in July compared to a 2.5 percent increase in June. The increase came in below economist estimates of 1.0 percent growth.
Also this morning, the Commerce Department will release data on new home sales in July at 10 a.m. ET, with economists forecasting the annual rate to rise to 390,000. June's data surprised economists, with sales jumping 11 percent to a rate of 384,000 units.
Trading may also be impacted by the release of the Energy Department's weekly report on oil inventories, which could have a significant impact on the direction of oil prices.
The healthcare sector may also be in focus today following the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, a key proponent of healthcare reform.
In corporate news, shares of oil giant Chevron (CVX) may be on the move amid news that the Australian Government has granted approval for the firm's proposed $42 billion liquefied natural gas venture on a remote island.
Meanwhile, Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN) reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.24 per share after the bell Tuesday, beating the consensus estimate of $0.22 per share, although revenues failed to meet expectations.
Brown Shoe Company (BWS) reported a quarterly net loss that came in line with estimates, while Charming Shoppes (CHRS) edged out earnings forecasts. Both firms' revenues failed to meet Wall Street expectations.
Stocks finished modestly higher on Tuesday, as the day's positive economic reports and news of Ben Bernanke's reappointment generated some upbeat sentiment on Wall Street. The Dow closed up 30 points at 9,539, the Nasdaq closed up 6 points at 2,024 and the S&P 500 closed up 2 points at 1,028.
Crude oil futures have moved lower in early commodities trading, slipping by $0.55 to $71.50 a barrel after moving notably lower in the previous session. Meanwhile, the price of gold is moving higher, advancing by $1.60 to $946.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is moving higher versus the major European currencies, advancing to $1.4262 versus the euro and moving up to $1.6237 versus the pound. Meanwhile, the dollar has also jumped against the yen, rising to 94.21 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly higher on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 1.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are slipping, with the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index down by 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, while the French CAC 40 Index is falling by 0.1 percent.
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