S&P 500 Futures Defend Record High With Narrow Gains

U.S. stocks made minor gains in tepid trading on Wednesday, as investors awaited fresh catalysts in the form of economic data.

The large-cap S&P 500 Index rose 0.1% by the close to secure its third consecutive record high. The index finished at 2,498.37. The benchmark traded within a narrow six-point range during the Wednesday session.

Five of 11 sectors tracked by the large-cap index finished in positive territory on Wednesday. Energy shares put up strong gains as U.S. crude prices notched five-week highs in New York. Energy stocks rose 1.1% as a sector. Consumer discretionary stocks advanced 0.6% and teledom services finished 0.3% higher as a sector.

On the opposite side of the ledger, healthcare stocks declined 0.5%, and shares of information technology companies fell 0.3%.

Real estate stocks were down 0.8% as a sector. Utilities stocks, which are normally viewed as defensive plays, closed off 0.3%.

Higher gasoline prices during the month of August triggered a boost in U.S. producer inflation, the Department of Labor reported Wednesday. The producer price index (PPI) for final demand rose 0.2% last month after slipping 0.1% in July. Compared to a year ago, producer inflation advanced 2.4%.

Several batches of high-profile data are expected over the next two days. The Labor Department will report on consumer inflation on Thursday, followed by government reports on retail sales and industrial production on Friday.

Consumer inflation data could impact the Federal Reserve’s plan to continue normalizing monetary policy for the remainder of the year. After a two-month hiatus, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) returns with a policy meeting next week.

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Sam Bourgi is a financial market analyst for economiccalendar.com. He has more than six years of progressive experience in economic and financial analysis, research consulting and sectoral analysis. As a published author in government, peer-reviewed, online and industry sources, he has developed a fundamental approach to the financial markets with a broad focus on stock indices, commodities and the technology sector. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Windsor and Master’s degree from McMaster University.