August 22, 2019 / 1:18 PM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures edge higher as retail earnings highlight consumer confidence

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* Nordstrom jumps after profit beat

* ECB eyes stimulus package as growth looks weaker

* Futures up: Dow 0.14%, S&P 0.13%, Nasdaq 0.07% (Changes comment, adds details; Updates prices)

By Akanksha Rana

Aug 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures stabilized on Thursday as strong results from retailers bolstered confidence in consumer demand, while investors look ahead to Fed Chief Jerome Powell’s speech for more clues on future interest rate moves.

Upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc jumped about 7% in premarket trading as it joined Target Corp and Lowe’s Cos Inc in delivering a quarterly profit beat.

“There is an ongoing feeling that U.S. consumer names are robust and that’s important to an economy that is slowing,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

The release of the minutes from the U.S. central bank’s meeting on July 30-31 offered little clarity on Fed’s next move. The policymakers were deeply divided over their quarter-point cut in rates but united in wanting to signal the move was not on a preset path to further cuts.

While traders are sticking to bets that the Fed will cut rates again in September, Powell’s speech at an annual gathering in Jackson Hole on Friday may prove crucial to short-term sentiment.

President Donald Trump continues to press the Fed publicly to reduce rates, but many analysts say the U.S. economy is far further away from recession than some of its European rivals or than the bond market at times in recent months has suggested.

“The propensity for (Powell) to disappoint investors is out there but he will likely use Jackson Hole to suggest that the Fed is ready to cut (rates),” Hogan said.

At 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 36 points, or 0.14%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.75 points, or 0.13% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 5.25 points, or 0.07%.

Despite a staging a comeback from last week’s bruising selloff, markets are still on course to end the month lower, mainly due to concerns over the U.S.-China trade war and its impact on growth.

The ongoing tariff war and fears of recession have prompted China and Germany to consider stimulus, with minutes from European Central Bank’s last policy meeting signaling more easing as soon as September.

After better-than-expected purchasing manager surveys (PMI) in Europe on Thursday, investors will focus on U.S. PMI data, due at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Tesla rose 2.7% after a report said Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess is interested in acquiring a stake in the electric car-maker. (Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Medha Singh in Bengaluru)

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