U.S. stock index futures pared declines on Wednesday as a bigger-than-expected fall in February’s retail sales and a moderation in producer price inflation kept alive hopes of a less aggressive monetary policy stance by the Federal Reserve.
Data showed retail sales fell 0.4% last month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a contraction of 0.3%.
A separate report showed producer prices rose 4.6% in February on an annual basis, against expectations of a 5.4% rise.
Traders’ bets were still equally split between odds of a 25 basis point rate hike and a pause at the Fed’s March meeting.
At 8:33 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 488 points, or 1.52%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 58.5 points, or 1.49%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 130.75 points, or 1.07%.