NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open little changed on Friday, though stocks looked likely to rack up a loss for the week, as investors were kept on their heels by uncertainty over how soon central banks will rein in their stimulus programs.
Jitters over the longevity of monetary policy around the world has roiled markets recently and nerves were stretched further this week when the Bank of Japan decided to hold policy steady. The extraordinary measures taken by policymakers to support the economy have helped fuel a rally that has boosted the S&P by nearly 15 percent this year so far.
The prospect that the accommodative stance of central banks - particularly the Federal Reserve - could be pulled bank sooner than expected has prompted traders to rethink bets that were built around that support. Stocks have fallen during three of the past four days, and heading into Friday's session, the S&P 500 is down 0.4 percent on the week.
Attention is now focused on the Fed's policy-setting meeting next week. Investors will be looking for insight into how soon the central bank will wind down its monthly $85-billion bond purchase plan.
"Markets are looking at next week's Fed meeting to be the big driver in the short-term," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
"Bernanke has really increased the amount of transparency in the Fed's thinking," said Forrest. "This isn't going to be a jack-in-the-box surprise Fed, it's going to be a Fed that clearly indicates what it's going to do. That's why people are looking to this meeting in particular."
Economic data offered some support and futures trimmed declines after a report showed producer prices rose more than expected in May as gasoline prices rebounded, and underlying inflation pressures remained muted.
Other reports due on Friday include data on industrial production and consumer sentiment.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.4 points but were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures was off 12 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.5 points.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corp's
Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), a songwriters' rights organization, is suing Pandora Media
Shares of Solarcity
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp