U.S. stock futures struggled for direction on Wednesday as investors awaited clues on the future path of U.S. interest rates with a duo of Federal Reserve speakers and a report on economic conditions on tap.
Investors were also eagerly waiting for a product announcement from Apple Inc. later in the day, where the tech giant is expected to unveil an update to its iPhone roster.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 8 points to 18,515, while those for the S&P 500 index shed 1.75 points to 2,183. But futures for the Nasdaq-100 index climbed 4.50 points, or 0.1%, to 4,832.
The muted action comes after U.S. stocks logged small gains on Tuesday when a disappointing services-sector report fueled expectations the Fed won't raise interest rates at its Sept. 20-21 meeting. The S&P 500 and the Dow average both ended the day 0.3% higher.
Traders may get more clues on the Fed's view on rates this morning, when Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker and Kansas City Fed President Esther George testify at the House Financial Services panel on 'Governance, Monetary Policy and Economic Performance' at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.
The Fed's report on economic conditions, the so-called Beige Book, comes out at 2 p.m., SociÃ©tÃ© GÃ©nÃ©rale analysts said.
"Given the declines in both the ISM factory and services surveys in August, comments from regional Fed banks about the degree of cooling in those sectors could aid in determining whether the weak ISM prints in August truly reflect weaker conditions," they said in a note.
San Francisco Fed President John Williams late Tuesday said he still backs a rate increase "sooner rather than later", repeating comments he made before the release of the disappointing August jobs report.
At 10 a.m., Labor Department figures on July job openings, known as the JOLTS report, are due.