REUTERS - U.S. stocks looked set to open slightly lower as oil prices lost ground and investors assessed a set of economic data ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech.
An agreement among major oil producing countries to curb output resulted in a near 6 percent surge in Brent crude prices on Wednesday, but investors were worried about a lack of clarity on details of the deal. Brent crude fell 0.82 percent.
Wall Street cut losses on Wednesday, ending the session higher as the oil rally boosted shares of energy companies.
U.S. economic growth was less sluggish than previously thought in the second quarter as gross domestic product expanded at a 1.4 percent annual rate, compared with the prior estimate of 1.1 percent rise.
Another report showed that the number of Americans applying for jobless claims rose less-than-expected last week.
“I think you are going to get a tight-ranged choppy market,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in New Jersey.
The strength in economic data could pave the way for the Fed to raise interest rates later this year.
Fed Chair Yellen speaks on banking and the economy at 4:00 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) in Washington and her comments will be parsed for any hints on the timing of the next rate hike.
The markets have been at the mercy of every Fed deliberation as its members remain divided over whether the U.S. economy is strong enough to absorb a rate hike in the near term.
Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harper said a rate increase in December would be appropriate, while his Atlanta counterpart Dennis Lockhart said the central bank needed more evidence on progress before making a move.
Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell and Kansas City Fed President Esther George, who have a say on interest rates, will speak later in the day.
Dow e-minis were down 28 points, or 0.15 percent at 8:36 a.m. ET, with 21,242 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 4 points, or 0.18 percent, with 148,238 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 9 points, or 0.18 percent, on volume of 19,943 contracts.
Shares of PepsiCo rose 2.3 percent to $109.90 premarket after the beverage giant reported quarterly revenue that beat analysts’ estimate.
Apple was down 0.65 percent to $113.21 after Barclays cut its price target on the stock.
Ebay rose 2.4 percent after Deutsche Bank upgraded the e-commerce platform’s rating to “buy” and raised its price target.
Intra-Cellular plunged 65.76 percent to $14.50 after the company said its schizophrenia drug did not show any clinically significant difference when compared with placebo.
Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva