U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open Wednesday ahead of the publication of the Commerce Department’s retail sales report and the Department of Labor's import price index.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.06 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.05 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.13 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on the February retail sales report, which measures consumer spending, which accounts for the majority of overall economic activity, due to be published at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.
Economists expect the report to show that retail sales increased by 0.6 percent in February, boosted by gains in motor vehicle sales and gas prices. Core retail sales, which excluding auto, is expected to record 0.4 percent growth compared to 0.2 percent increase in the previous month.
Investors are also expected to focus on the import price index, which measures the change in the price of imported goods and services purchased domestically. The index is expected to rise 0.5 percent in February after gaining 0.6 percent in the prior month. Meanwhile, business inventories are expected to have increased by 0.4 percent in January after increasing 0.1 percent in the prior month.
In addition, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will report February budget statement at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The federal budget balance, which measures the difference between the government's income and expenditure, is expected to show a $205 billion deficit for February 2013, $27 billion less than February 2012, bringing the total budget deficit to $495 billion in the first five months of the fiscal year 2013.
The U.S. stock markets ended mixed Tuesday as sentiment was weighed down by sharp drop in the U.K. industrial production and a warning by the Bundesbank’s Weidmann that the Eurozone crisis was not over. The S&P 500 Index advanced 0.32 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.26 percent while the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to rebound to close at its new-record high of 14,450.06.
European stock markets were trading lower with Germany's DAX30 down 0.16 percent, France's CAC 40 slipping 0.35 percent and London's FTSE 100 declining 0.55 percent.
Asian stock markets declined for a second straight session Wednesday. The Chinese Shanghai Composite declined 0.99 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 1.46 percent, while the Japanese Nikkei fell 0.61 percent and India’s BSE Sensex declined 0.53 percent.