By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Merck, KB Home could be active ahead of the open

U.S. stock futures were treading water Wednesday, as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a much-anticipated press conference from President-elect Donald Trump.

"If the press conference does not give direction to the markets, then this consolidation could continue to Trump's inauguration next Friday," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 12 points to 19,800, while those for the S&P 500 index added less than a point to 2,264, while Nasdaq-100 futures tacked on 3 points to 5,034.

The Nasdaq Composite reached its fourth-straight record close on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-stuck-in-waiting-game-ahead-of-trumps-news-conference-2017-01-10), closing up 20 points to 5,551.82, marking its longest streak of all-time highs since Dec. 27, 1999, according to Dow Jones data. But the S&P 500 finished flat at 2,268.90, while the Dow industrials , which came within 43 points of the 20,000 level earlier in the day, closed off 31.85 points to 19,855.53.

Read: Gross says this key bond level is a far bigger deal than Dow 20,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bill-gross-says-this-key-treasury-level-is-far-more-important-than-dow-20000-2017-01-10)

Trump's press conference -- expected at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-time-is-donald-trumps-press-conference-on-wednesday-2017-01-11) -- will be his first formal news conference since July. As Perry pointed out, markets are "hoping for further clues over the direction of fiscal policy, which has had so many hopes pinned to."

The cautious tone for markets comes after an exuberant postelection rally that finished 2016 on a high note. Trump's victory spurred hopes that he would implement campaign promises for fiscal stimulus, regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts that could lift the U.S. economy.

Some investors may be waiting to see whether Trump comments on allegations that Russia may hold compromising information (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/russia-may-hold-compromising-information-on-trump-cnn-reports-2017-01-10) on the president-to-be and that Russian agents conspired with Trump campaign advisers and some of his company employees. The president-elect has dismissed the reports as a "total political witch hunt" on Twitter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-blasts-russian-allegations-as-total-political-witch-hunt-2017-01-11).

Read:Democracy needs you to survive, Obama says in emotional farewell address (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/democracy-needs-you-to-survive-obama-says-in-emotional-farewell-address-2017-01-10)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/democracy-needs-you-to-survive-obama-says-in-emotional-farewell-address-2017-01-10)Economic docket: No key data releases or Federal Reserve speakers are scheduled for Wednesday. But investors will hear from several Fed officials over the next two days, including Chairwoman Janet Yellen, and retail sales data are due Friday.

Stocks to watch:Supervalu Inc.(SVU) and KB Home(KBH) will report financial results ahead of the market's open. The bigger earnings news is expected Friday, when big banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.(JPM) are expected to report.

Merck & Co.(MRK) shares could be active. They advanced late Tuesday after the drugmaker said the Food and Drug Administration will grant a priority review for one of its lung-cancer drug treatments.

Ford Motor Co.(F) announced a special dividend and gave updates on its forecasts late Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ford-says-profits-will-improve-in-2018-declares-special-dividend-2017-01-10), news that lifted shares slightly in extended trading.

Synnex Corp.(SNX) stock could move after the outsourcing-services and information-technology company posted a 37% jump in fourth-quarter profit (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/synnex-corp-profit-climbs-on-acquisition-2017-01-10-174853222).

Other markets: European stocks traded mostly flat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-wander-before-trump-takes-center-stage-2017-01-11), while in Asia , stocks outside of China broadly rose (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-off-to-the-races-hoping-trump-will-reveal-stimulus-details-2017-01-11).

The dollar regained some strength across the board (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-perks-up-but-big-moves-on-hold-ahead-of-trump-conference-2017-01-11), especially against the British pound , which weakened after a reports on industrial production and the trade deficit.

Oil prices rebounded somewhat after two straight day of losses (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-struggles-after-two-days-of-losses-with-focus-now-on-us-data-2017-01-11), with investors fixated on a report on U.S. supply data due later. Gold prices managed slight gains.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 11, 2017 06:18 ET (11:18 GMT)

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