Upbeat Earnings News May Help Stocks Extend Winning Streak

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Thursday, with stocks looking to extend the upward trend seen over the past several sessions.

Upbeat earnings news from some big-name retailers may generate early buying interest on Wall Street, as the major averages seek to extend their five-session winning streak.

Traders also continue to respond to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting, which included an outline of a plan to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading session on Wednesday, extending their recent winning streak to five sessions. With the continued advance on the day, the S&P 500 reached a new record closing high.

The major averages ended the day just off their highs of the session. The Dow climbed 74.51 points or 0.4 percent to 21,012.42, the Nasdaq advanced 24.31 points or 0.4 percent to 6,163.02 and the S&P 500 rose 5.97 points or 0.3 percent to 2,404.39.

The continued strength on Wall Street came following the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.

The minutes of the meeting noted that growth in economic activity had slowed, although the Fed members agreed that the slower growth during the first quarter was likely to be transitory.

Most participants subsequently said it would soon be appropriate for the Fed to take another step in removing some policy accommodation.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates at its next meeting in mid-June, with CME Group’s FedWatch tool indicating an 83.1 percent chance of a quarter-point rate hike.

However, the minutes said members generally judged it would be prudent to await additional evidence indicating that the recent slowing in the pace of economic activity had been transitory before raising rates.

The comment may increase the focus on the economic data due to be released in the weeks leading up to the June meeting.

The Fed minutes also said staff offered a…

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