Futures are virtually flat

Stock futures are virtually unchanged ahead of the open on Monday.

Near 8:21 a.m. ET, Dow futures were down 28 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were virtually unchanged.

Last week was the best for the Dow since March. In a morning note to clients, Oppenheimer’s John Stoltzfus wrote, “The worst may be behind us in the latest chapter of market downdrafts if last week was any indication. But we’d suggest investors keep their seat belts fastened for now and at all costs avoid irrational exuberance.”

The message here is that all is not yet calm, particularly because we’re in the final countdown to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate’s decision and announcement on Thursday.

While fed fund futures are only pricing a 28% chance that the Fed will lift rates above virtually zero for the first time in the recovery, economists are split almost 50/50.

And as we highlighted over the weekend, the FOMC must decide whether the sell off in stocks is enough reason to hold off on raising rates even though the economy appears ripe for a hike.

There’s no economic data on the calendar today. Later this week, retail sales, the consumer price index and housing starts numbers are due, and you can read our complete preview of the week ahead here.

Alibaba shares dropped 3% in premarket trading after a damning cover story in Barron’s. The magazine predicted that Alibaba’s stock will drop 50%, and questioned the veracity of its financial statements.

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