Futures muted ahead of retail sales data, Fed minutes

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were subdued on Wednesday as investors stayed away from making big bets ahead of monthly retail sales data and the release of minutes from the U.S Federal Reserve’s January meeting.

Retail sales are estimated to rise 1.1% in January, helped by the disbursal of another round of pandemic relief checks to households at the beginning of the month.

Investors are also expecting central banks to keep monetary policy loose in the short term, and the Fed minutes, which will be released later in the day, are likely to back those views.

The Fed has pledged to pin interest rates near zero until inflation rises to 2% and looks set to exceed that goal.

However, market participants have started to factor in a rise in inflation as economic data improves. Rising inflation expectations also pushed benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields to their highest level in a year on Tuesday. [US/]

The Dow notched a record closing high on Tuesday led by gains in cyclical sectors, although concerns over rising interest rates kept the benchmark S&P 500 little changed.

With Donald Trump’s impeachment trial over, President Joe Biden wants Congress to pass the legislation in the coming weeks in order to get $1,400 stimulus checks out to Americans and bolster unemployment payments.

At 6:32 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 4 points, or 0.01%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.06%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 25 points, or 0.18%.

Shares in Dow components Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) and Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) jumped about 4% each in premarket trading after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) Inc disclosed major investments in the companies on Tuesday.

Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings (NYSE:HLT) Inc slipped 2.3% on reporting a third straight quarterly loss as bookings fell due to coronavirus-induced travel disruptions.