S&P futures tepid ahead of economic data, Fed meeting

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(Reuters) – Futures tracking the S&P 500 was nearly unchanged on Tuesday as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of retail sales and industrial production data, while the Federal Reserve was set to kick off its two-day policy meeting.

Nasdaq futures rose about 0.5% by 6:41 a.m. ET, pointing to an extension of a rebound in technology stocks that were at the heart of February’s selloff. The Nasdaq 100 is still about 5% below its Feb. 12 record closing high.

The Dow notched its sixth consecutive all-time high on Monday on optimism over a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package and as several airlines indicated leisure travel was picking up, bolstering views that the economy was on a path to recovery.

Scores of stimulus, improving economic data and mass vaccinations have stoked inflation worries, pushing up yields and upending equity markets in February. Yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury slipped for the second session on Tuesday to 1.59% from a 13-month high.

Fears about an overheating economy and a jump-forward in interest rate expectations have increased scrutiny on the Fed meeting, where policymakers are likely to raise economic forecasts and repeat their pledge to remain accommodative for the foreseeable future.

Investors have slightly increased their cash allocation, deeming that inflation and ‘taper tantrums’ could topple the record rally in financial markets, BofA’s March fund manager survey showed on Tuesday.

Retail sales and industrial production numbers will offer a fresh glimpse of the U.S. economic health in February. Both sets of data are due before the opening bell.

Dow E-minis were down 65 points, or 0.2% and S&P 500 E-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.01%.

Mega-cap stocks including Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) rose between 0.2% and 1% in early trade.