Dow futures gain altitude for a third session as investors await retail sales and Fed update

Stocks looked likely to climb Wednesday as investors parsed a reading on U.S. consumer spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic and waited for a policy update from the Federal Reserve due later in the session.

How are equity benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were climbing 132 points, or 0.5%, to reach 28,039, those for the S&P 500 index advanced 16.75 points to 3,411.50, a rise of 0.5%, and Nasdaq-100 futures gained 30 points, or 0.3%, at 11,480.

On Tuesday, the Dow DJIA, +0.00%  rose 2.27 points to finish at 27,995.60, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.52%  gained 17.66 points, or 0.5%, to trade at 3,401.20, marking its third straight increase. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.20%  finished up 133.67 points, or 1.2%, at 11,190.32, logging back-to-back gains.

What’s driving the market?

Investors are awaiting the Fed’s first policy statement and updated economic projections under its new flexible inflation target strategy, which allows the central bank to let inflation run above 2% annually, and essentially calls for interest rates to remain lower for longer.

Market participants are watching to see how the central bank and Chairman Jerome Powell communicate the implementation of its new policy measures, announced last month.

See: Fed to signal interest-rate hikes won’t be an issue until 2024

The Federal Open Market Committee will release a policy statement at 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Powell will hold a press conference a half-hour later; and although no major changes to benchmark interest rates, which stand between 0% and 0.25%, are expected, market watchers will hope to glean more guidance from the Fed on the state of the economy and

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