CHICAGO (Dow Jones) -- Stock index futures ended Fridays session nearly flat, failing to get a lift from crude oils slide to below $41 a barrel.
The March S&P and Nasdaq contracts closed slightly higher. Each contract traded in a narrow range even as traders monitored sharply lower crude oil prices.
The lead crude oil contract fell $1.82 to $40.71 a barrel as OPECs production cut was deemed insufficient to halt oils price decline.
Equity futures traders believe oil values have topped, and so they are starting to shrug off these types of price changes, according to Frank Lesh, an analyst with Rand Financial Services.
«They (traders) wont be concerned about it being $2 up or $2 down,» Lesh added.
The lack of market movement followed a volatile Thursday session in which S&P and Nasdaq futures each formed bullish chart reversals.
«Usually the day after that, you see a more narrow range with no follow through in either direction,» said Alan Bush, a vice president and trading floor analyst with A.G. Edwards.
Technically, March S&Ps closed above 1190, a level that helps confirm the bullish trend, according to Kevin Pendley, president of CharTable Research.
The March Nasdaq finished the week just shy of 1619, a figure that Pendley said would help validate ideas of a market bottom.
Before the open, the U.S. government reported the producer price index, or PPI, climbed by 0.5% in November. The figure showed wholesale prices climbed at a slower pace than in October, but it was higher than analysts forecasts.
Lesh noted the core index, minus food and energy, was in line with expectations.
Traders, looking ahead to a busy week of economic data, may have been reluctant to establish new positions, Lesh said.
November retail sales will be revealed prior to Mondays open. Tuesday, traders learn whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. It is expected that Fed policy makers will raise rates by 25 basis points to 2.25%. More important, according to traders, is whether the Feds statement will provide clues on money tightening for the new year.
Friday, the government releases important inflation data. The consensus estimate of analysts, surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC, projects Novembers consumer price index, or CPI, to increase by 0.6%.
Fridays volume for S&P futures was estimated at 177,425 contracts, compared with 266,550 on Thursday. Volume for Nasdaq futures was estimated at 23,883 on Friday, compared with Thursdays volume of 52,709.
Contract Settlement Change
CME Mar S&P 500 1191.80 Up 1.10
CME Mar Nasdaq 100 1617.00 Up 2.00
CBOT Mar DJIA 10555 Up 9
-By Howard Packowitz, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4132; email@example.com
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