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U.S. stocks: Futures gain; Fed-hike fears in focus

U.S. stock futures turned modestly higher Wednesday ahead of Wall Street’s open, but rising fears about a too-soon interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve may keep investors on the back foot during the trading session.

Apple Inc. could see pressure after one analyst downgraded its shares. The company unveiled a new iPhone and its first Watch on Tuesday. Microsoft Corp. and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. are among other names investors will be watching.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average  moved up 14 points to 17,048, while those for the S&P 500 index  picked up 1.6 point to 1,991.30. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index  tacked on 6.8 points to 4,072.

A thin economic calendar will keep the spotlight on recent consolidation for Wall Street. Just a report on wholesale inventories for July is expected, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

The S&P 500  fell 0.7% to 1,988.44 on Tuesday, its fourth loss in the last five trading days.

Fed triggers jitters: Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari, said a lack of fresh economic data is weighing on stocks globally, but rising bond yields, particularly in the U.S., may be the bigger culprit.

“Rising yields may reflect a slight repricing of the first rate hike, with some believing that markets had priced in a later hike than the Fed is suggesting,” he said in a note. But he said there isn’t any recent evidence to suggest the Fed has indeed brought rate-hike expectations forward.

Investors will look to next week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting for fresh guidance on rates.

European markets  came off intraday lows. Asian markets were lower, with the exception of a small rise for the Nikkei 225 index .

Stocks to watch: Analysts at Pacific Crest cut Apple  to sector perform, citing a lack of new “profit drivers” to maintain an outperform rating after the iPhone maker unveiled the latest version of its popular phone and a new Apple Watch wearable device on Tuesday.

Shares of Microsoft  could grab attention on a report in The Wall Street Journal that the technology group is set to pay around $2 billion deal to buy the maker of the popular “Minecraft” videogame.

Dollar General  may see action as the company takes its $9.1 billion offer to buy Family Dollar Stores  directly to its rival’s shareholders. The move comes after Family Dollar’s board rejected the takeover offer.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts  skidded more than 6% in after-hours trading Tuesday after the doughnut chain posted stronger sales, but adjusted profit missed forecasts.

Other markets: As investors backed away from stocks, gold prices rose and the dollarcontinued to climb, hitting another nearly six-year high against the yen.