By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Wal-Mart tumbles, Best Buy higher after results

U.S. stock futures straddled the flat line Thursday, as investors waited to see if the postelection rally would resume, with comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and an inflation update ahead.

Retailers will be in the spotlight, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. falling in premarket after a sales miss.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 4 points to 18,829, while S&P 500 index futures gained 1.20 points to 2,174. Slightly stronger, Nasdaq-100 futures added 10.50, or 0.2%, to 4,794.25.

A postelection rally for financial stocks hit pause on Wednesday, asthe Dow industrials broke a seven-session winning streak. The DJIA closed 0.3% lower, while the S&P 500 index eased 0.2% on Wednesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed 0.4% higher.

The ICE Dollar Index , which measures the currency against a basket of six rivals, was moving lower, hovering at 100, after tapping a 13-month high on Wednesday. Among the gainers, the British pound briefly hit $1.25 against the dollar after stronger-than-expected U.K. retail sales data.

Need to know:Carl Icahn says dial back on stocks, as Trump rally looks overdone (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/carl-icahn-says-dial-back-on-stocks-as-trump-rally-looks-overdone-2016-11-17)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-transition-teams-incoherence-could-torpedo-market-rally-2016-11-16)Yellen speaks: Investors will be alert for signals a December interest rate increase remains likely when the Fed chief testifies to the Joint Economic Committee ofCongress, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Yellen's Capitol Hill appearance comes almost a month ahead of the central bank's Dec. 13-14 meeting.

Read:What to watch in Yellen's testimony (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-watch-in-yellens-testimony-2016-11-16)

"We believe that investors will be looking for clues as to whether Yellen shares the view expressed by Fed's Lacker and Harker recently, that increased fiscal stimulus will likely lead to a faster pace of future rate increases," Charalambos Pissouros, senior analyst at IronFX told clients in a note.

Pissouros said Yellen is likely to instead "maintain a balanced stance." She could hint that inflation due to fiscal stimulus could lead to faster rate increases, but would pair that with the opinion more information is needed before the Fed can re-evaluate its interest-rate outlook, he said.

Such comments, though, will likely keep the dollar's rally alive, Pissouros said.

In other Fed appearances, Gov. Lael Brainard will give a speech about "the evolution of work" at the New York Fed at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. New York Fed President William Dudley will speak at two events in New York, at 8:50 a.m. Eastern, then again at 9:10 a.m. Eastern.

Inflation and the "Goldilocks zone": Data all due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern includes weekly jobless claims, October consumer prices, housing starts, building permits and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's November index on regional manufacturing. Data on housing starts will come at the same time.

The inflation data could be key in how stocks perform Thursday, said Jamieson Blake, retail sales manager, at ADS Securities, in a note to clients.

"The Trump-inspired rally seems to be struggling to find another leg higher, so an inflation print that sits in the so-called Goldilocks zone of not too hot and not too cold would be well received by the market," said Blake.Read:Bond guru Bill Gross says Trump voters will suffer most from election (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bond-guru-bill-gross-says-trump-voters-will-suffer-most-from-election-result-2016-11-16)

Stocks to watch:Wal-Mart(WMT) fell over 3% after the retail giant reported fiscal third-quarter sales that missed consensus (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-shares-fall-after-revenue-miss-2016-11-17).

Best Buy Co. Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/best-buys-stock-soars-after-results-and-profit-outlook-beat-expectations-2016-11-17).(BBY) surged over 7% in premarket after results and profit beat forecasts.Staples Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/staples-quarterly-earnings-meet-expectations-but-sales-miss-wall-streets-target-2016-11-17). was unchanged after sales missed analysts expectations.

Tesoro Corp.(TSO) said it would buy Western Refining Inc.(WNR) in a deal worth around $4.1 billion on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesoro-to-buy-western-refining-for-41-billion-2016-11-17).

Gap Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gap-earnings-a-facility-fire-has-near-term-benefits-2016-11-16).(GPS), Salesforce.com Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-expect-when-salesforce-reports-earnings-2016-11-15).(CRM) and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) will report after the closing bell.

Other markets: Equities were subdued in Asia (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-slip-as-oil-prices-fall-2016-11-16) and Europe (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-struggle-for-direction-with-ecb-minutes-on-deck-2016-11-17). Gold prices rose moderately, up $5.70 to $1,229.60 an ounce.

Crude prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-pull-back-after-another-jump-in-us-supply-2016-11-17) shot higher after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih reportedly made upbeat comments (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/saudi-deal-optimism-sparks-rebound-for-oil-prices-2016-11-17) in a television interview about a production-cut deal at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Nov. 30.

Pressure appeared to be easing on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield , after Treasury prices rose Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasury-yields-on-rise-for-7th-straight-session-2016-11-16), snapping a six-session losing streak.

Opinion: Trump transition team turmoil could torpedo market rally (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-transition-teams-incoherence-could-torpedo-market-rally-2016-11-16)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 17, 2016 08:06 ET (13:06 GMT)

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