NEW YORK — Stock futures fell slightly today as investors paused after a big three-day rally and prepared for upcoming earnings season.
Traders often avoid making big bets just before earnings releases since they provide a clear picture of how strong a company is performing. Outlooks for future growth will also be closely scrutinized because disappointing economic reports in recent months have called into question the pace of a recovery.
Investors will want to know if companies are feeling the effects of that slowdown in growth and whether corporations believe the rebound will pick back up in the coming months. Stocks consistently fell over the past couple of months because data showed the economy was growing, but not nearly as fast as had been forecast.
Earnings season kicks off with Alcoa Inc. on Monday. Other companies scheduled to release results next week include banking giants JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. General Electric Co. and chipmaker Intel Corp. are also scheduled to report earnings next week.
A report on wholesale inventories is due out today, which will provide one of the last clues about the health of the economy before companies start releasing results. The government report is expected to show inventories held by wholesalers rose in May for the fifth straight month. Growth in inventories is a positive sign because it means wholesalers are increasing orders from manufacturers and expecting retailers to also start buying more goods to sell to consumers.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predict wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in May and sales also jumped by 0.4 percent. The Commerce Department report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).
Overseas markets rose today. A surprise interest rate hike in South Korea was viewed as a sign of confidence that the global economy will continue expand. Central banks around the world, including the U.S., have kept rates at historically low rates to stimulate growth.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 18, or 0.2 percent, to 10,074. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 1.10, or 0.1 percent, to 1,065.90, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 4.50, or 0.3 percent, to 1,793.50.
Stocks jumped for a third straight day yesterday after a better-than-expected report on weekly jobless claims. Weak employment reports over the past two months had often sent stocks lower, so the steep drop in claims for unemployment benefits was a welcome sign that maybe significant job growth could occur this year.
The Dow jumped nearly 121 points yesterday and is up nearly 5 percent for the holiday-shortened week.
Meanwhile, bond prices dipped today as investors turn away from the safety of Treasurys. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.05 percent from 3.04 percent late yesterday.