* Fed Chairman Bernanke to speak at 10:00 a.m. ET
* Italy bonds, European stocks up after Italy bond auction
* Futures: S&P up 2.1 pts, Dow off 1 pt, Nasdaq up 4 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Feb 27 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited a second round
of testimony in Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke for signs of whether the Fed will continue its economic
Economic data was also in focus with U.S. durables goods and
homes data due out at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330) GMT and 10:00 a.m. ET
(1500 GMT), respectively.
Bernanke will make his second appearance before the
Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
"Of course, Bernanke is in the spotlight again but I don't
expect him to vary from his comments from yesterday," said Peter
Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in
A day earlier, Bernanke strongly defended the Fed's monetary
stimulus efforts before Congress, easing financial market
worries over an early retreat from the Fed's bond buying
program, which had been triggered by minutes of the Fed's
January meeting released a week ago.
His remarks, along with data showing sales of new homes hit
a 4 1/2-year high, helped U.S. stocks rebound Tuesday from their
worst decline since November.
Despite the bounce, the S&P 500 was unable to move back
above 1,500, a closely watched level that had been technical
support until recently, but may now prove a resistance point.
The benchmark S&P 500, up 6 percent for the year, was within
reach of record highs a week ago before the minutes from the
Fed's January meeting were released. Since then, the index has
shed 1 percent as the minutes raised questions about the
longevity of the Fed's economy-stimulating measures.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.1 points and were in line with
fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into
account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 1
points while Nasdaq 100 futures added 4 points.
In earnings news, Target Corp posted a lower
quarterly profit as sales of food and value-priced items only
partially mitigated weakness in holiday spending. The stock fell
1.7 percent to $62.99 in premarket trading.
Dollar Tree Inc reported a higher quarterly profit
as the chain controlled costs and as consumer spending improved.
The stock rose 4.5 percent to $42.91 in premarket trading.
In Europe, shares rose, steadying after the previous
session's sharp losses, though jitters over the euro zone kept a
lid on gains.
Italy's 10-year debt costs rose more than half a percentage
point at the first longer-term auction since an inconclusive
parliamentary election, although they remained below the
psychologically important level of 5 percent.