Market Snapshot: Stock futures struggle to gain altitude as market searches for fresh catalyst

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U.S. stock-index futures on Wednesday were fighting for further purchase toward records as markets awaited additional news on China-U.S. trade, weighed corporate quarterly results, and digested reports of merger talks between a pair of heavyweight technology companies.

How are major benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ19, +0.10% were up 11 points, or less than 0.1%, at 27,432, those for the S&P 500 index ESZ19, +0.09% edged less than a point higher at 3,072.50, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQZ19, +0.09% were flat at 8,211.50.

On Tuesday, the Dow DJIA, +0.11% rose 30.52 points, or 0.1%, at 27,492.63, surpassing its previous record, set on Monday. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.02%  edged 1.48 points higher to reach 8,434.68, a gain of less than 0.1%, also notching a second consecutive record close.

The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.12%, meanwhile, edged 3.60 points lower, or 0.1% to end the day at 3,074.67.

What’s driving the market?

Wall Street investors are finding few catalysts on Wednesday with a round of speeches from Federal Reserve and a fresh round of corporate results, likely providing the most significant catalysts for stock-market investors.

A preliminary, or phase one, trade deal between China and the U.S. is still a hope for investors but some strategists worry that the market may be placing too much emphasis on a deal coming to fruition soon.

“The market has taken an overly optimistic view on the Phase One deal, nudged on by better US economic data of late,” wrote Stephen Innes, market strategist at AxiTrader. “So, with delay comes chance that risk-on sentiment has too long to ferment, stalls and then maybe reverses as the waiting game weighs,” he said.

With the U.S. corporate earnings reporting season winding down, FactSet data indicates that 75% of S&P 500 companies to report thus far have topped analysts’ expectations.

Looking ahead, Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans was slated to deliver a speech at 8 a.m. Eastern Time, while New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams was scheduled to speak at 9:30 a.m. in a discussion with the Wall Street Journal, and again at 6:30 p.m. at a global risk forum in New York.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Xerox Holdings Corp. XRX, +4.90% after the Wall Street Journal said the company is considering a cash-and-stock offer for personal-computer and printer-maker HP Inc. HPQ, +2.22%, which has a market value of about $27 billion.

Shares of New York Times Co. NYT, +0.25%  were in focus after the media company said it sees continued turbulence in digital ads as it reported its quarterly results.

Japanese technology company SoftBank Group Corp. 9984, +0.65% reported hefty losses as its earnings were hammered by office-space sharing startup WeWork. Japan-traded shares rose 0.7%.

Coty Inc. COTY, +0.09% reported Wednesday a fiscal first-quarter profit that beat expectations but revenue that fell a bit shy, as misses in luxury and consumer beauty sales offset a beat in professional beauty sales. Shares of Coty weren’t being actively traded.

Wendy’s Co. WEN, +1.36% shares rose in Wednesday premarket trade after the fast-food chain reported third-quarter results that beat expectations and raised its full-year guidance.

How are others assets trading?

The yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.10% fell to 1.845% Wednesday, from 1.865% late Tuesday when it registered its biggest one-day rise in five weeks.

December gold GCZ19, +0.19%  on Comex edged 0.1% higher after losing ground at a psychologically important level at $1,500 on Tuesday.

Oil futures fell Wednesday, with West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery CLZ19, -0.40%  off 0.2% to trade at $57.08 a barrel, after settling 1.2% higher on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The ICE U.S. dollar index DXY, -0.17%, a gauge of the greenback’s performance against six major rivals, fell 0.1% at 97.85, after gaining 0.4%, a day ago.

In Asia overnight, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.45%  fell 0.5%, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.43%  declined 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.02%  ended little-changed, while Japan’s NIKKEI 225 Index NIK, +0.22% edged up 0.2%. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600’s SXXP, +0.16% rose 0.2%.