By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Staples to report before the open

U.S. stock futures traded slightly higher Thursday, as investors waited to see if the post-election 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. due to report results ahead of the open.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 13 points to 18,846, while S&P 500 index futures gained 2.45 points to 2,175.50. Nasdaq-100 futures added 15 points, or 0.3%, to 4,799.25.

A post-election rally for financial stocks hit pause on Wednesday, as the 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.

( speaks: Investors will be alert for confirmation of a December interest rate hike when the Fed chief testifies to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, 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 (

"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 investors shouldn't expect any clear guidance from Yellen one way or another on this, but 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.

But such comments are likely to keep the dollar's rally alive, he said.

In other Fed speeches, Gov. Lael Brainard will give a speech about "the evolution of work" at the New York Fed at 12:30 p.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 (

Stocks to watch:Wal-Mart(WMT) , Staples Inc. and Best Buy Co. Inc.(BBY) report ahead of the open. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect Wal-Mart's earnings per share for the third quarter to slip to 96 cents from $1.03 last year. EPS results have surpassed Wall Street's expectations for the last four quarters.

Gap Inc.(GPS) , Inc.(CRM) and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) will report after the closing bell.

Other markets: Equities were subdued on Asian ( and European markets. Gold prices rose moderately, up $5.70 to $1,229.60 an ounce, while crude prices ( inched up 15 cents to $45.71 a barrel.

Pressure appeared to be easing on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield , after Treasury prices rose Wednesday (, snapping a six-session losing streak.

Opinion: Trump transition team turmoil could torpedo market rally (

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 17, 2016 06:46 ET (11:46 GMT)

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