Wall Street even-keel in light of consistent consumer spending

Wall Street trading was stable early today following more evidence that consumer spending in America, a dominant driver of the U.S. economy, remains very strong, according to the Associated Press.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials and S&P 500 were essentially unchanged before the opening bell.

In a week heavy with retail sales data, the government reported Tuesday that Americans increased their purchases at retailers last month, a sign that solid consumer spending is still powering a resilient U.S. economy.

The strong U.S. retail sales report Tuesday raised hopes that the economy can keep growing and avoid a long-predicted recession, but on the downside for markets, it could also raise the Federal Reserve’s resolve to keep interest rates elevated in order to grind down inflation.

Later today, the Fed will release minutes from its last meeting, when it returned to raising interest rates, lifting its benchmark rate to a 22-year high. High rates work by making it more expensive for individuals and businesses to borrow money, while hurting prices for investments.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 24 cents to $81.23 a barrel. The price for a barrel of U.S. crude oil dropped $1.52 to $80.99 Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 22 cents to $85.11 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 145.74 Japanese yen from 145.57 yen.