Futures edge lower ahead of Fed’s policy gathering

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stock futures were essentially flat with very little trading Tuesday as markets await any hint about the status of the economy from the Fed’s annual meeting this week in Jackson Hole.

Monday was among the lightest trading days of the year and it appears that may be the trend for most of the week.

Dow Jones industrial futures slipped 9 points to 13,098. The broader S&P futures gave up 1.7 points to hit 1,406.60 and the Nasdaq futures fell 1.75 points to 2,781.

There are no major earnings reports or government economic data being released, leaving investors to speculate what U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might say during a much anticipated speech on Friday.

Few expect Bernanke to make any significant announcements, but his speech will still be thoroughly sifted for implied meaning.

Energy markets paid very close attention to the movements of tropical storm Isaac Tuesday as it appeared to be blooming into a hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted Isaac would power up to hurricane strength, which starts at winds of 74 mph, later in the day and be at least a Category 1 hurricane by the time it’s expected to reach the swampy coast of southeast Louisiana.

The price of benchmark crude rose above $96 a barrel.

About one-quarter of the nation’s oil is produced in the Gulf of Mexico. As of Monday afternoon, about 80 percent of Gulf oil production had been suspended, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Companies have evacuated 346 oil and gas production platforms and 41 drilling rigs.

Also on Tuesday, The Conference Board, a private research group, will release its monthly consumer confidence index at 10 a.m. Eastern. Economists expect that the August reading will show the feeling of U.S. consumers about the economy is largely unchanged from July.