3 Min Read
* Consumer spending up, inflation subdued
* J.C. Penney shares jump after results
* Priceline stock up on Goldman bullish view
* Futures up: Dow 25 pts, S&P 4 pts, Nasdaq 11 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to rise at the open on Wednesday after data on spending and inflation gave the Federal Reserve room to continue its market-friendly economic stimulus.
U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in October and consumer prices unexpectedly fell, while the annual inflation rate was the lowest in four years, reports showed.
Minutes from the most recent Fed policy-setting meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) will be scrutinized for further clues on the future of a policy that has put the S&P 500 on track to post its best year in a decade.
"Strength in the economy and subdued inflation pressures mean the Fed doesn't have to rush to reduce its stimulus," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.
"There's been talk that tapering is coming soon, maybe this takes some pressure off. The data bodes well for the holiday shopping season as well," he said.
S&P 500 futures rose 4 points and were above 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 added 25 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 11 points.
The Dow industrials has traded above 16,000 during the last couple of sessions but has failed to close above that level, while the S&P faces resistance at 1,800. A solid move above those levels could further attract investors and money managers eager to chase performance.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech late Tuesday that echoed dovish comments by his nominated successor, Janet Yellen, said the U.S. central bank will maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy for as long as needed. The policy has been a pillar of the current rally in equities.
A Reuters poll published before Wednesday's data showed economists expect the Fed to begin reducing its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases by March, with a small chance it could do so as soon as January.
Deere & Co reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2014 earnings above estimates. Its shares gained 3.9 percent in premarket trading.
Shares of home improvement chain Lowe's fell 2.9 percent in premarket trading after it reported a rise in quarterly profit that slightly missed analysts' expectations.
J.C. Penney gained 9.4 percent premarket after it reported a deeper net loss but said sales were "encouraging" in November so far.
Priceline rose 2.8 percent in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs added the stock to its "conviction buy" list.