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Futures Slip as Investors Seek Fed Clarity

Tickers in this article: ACT CPB WCRX YHOO ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were trading down Monday after the S&P 500 booked its fourth week of gains as investors sought clarity about the direction of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

Federal Open Market Committee hawks have dominated the conversation in recent weeks, but later this week the bank's chief advisory panel will release a report from its most recent meeting, signalling its broader intentions. P/>"We see two things to watch for: hints of concern that inflation is too low and confirmation that the Fed has the flexibility to increase as well as reduce the pace of QE," Ethan Harris, co-head of Global Economics Research, wrote in a note. "Note that the FOMC minutes also are released and they tend to be a platform for the non-voting hawks to protest against the directive."

Yahoo! shares were falling 1.13% to $26.22 in pre-market trading after the company announced a deal to purchase Tumblr for $1.1 billion, substantially all of which will be payable in cash. In a press release, the company said "per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up," Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business with David Karp remaining CEO.

Futures for the S&P 500 were off 2.25 points, or 4.32 points below fair value, to 1,660.75. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 18 points, or 30.4 points below fair value, to 15,297. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 6 points, or 10.81 points below fair value, to 3,016.75.

Major U.S. markets closed higher Friday, led by energy stocks, after a consumer confidence gauge reached a post-crisis high and an upbeat report on U.S. economic activity bolstered the outlook for the world's largest economy.

At 1 p.m. EDT Monday, Chicago Federal Reserve president Charles Evans, a FOMC voting member, will speak at the CFA Society Chicago Distinguished Speakers Series. New York Fed President Bill Dudley is expected to speak on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on the outlook for the U.S. economy before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. Later that day, the FOMC will release minutes from its April 30 to May 1 meeting.

No major U.S. economic releases were expected Monday.

Warner Chilcott was rising 1.98% to $19.59 and Actavis was gaining 2.25% to $128.33 as Actavis gets ready to acquire Warner Chilcott in an all-stock transaction worth roughly $8.5 billion. The deal would create the third-largest specialty pharmaceutical company in the U.S.

Campbell Soup was rising 2.88% to $49 after the company beat on both the top and bottom lines, exceeding fiscal third-quarter EPS estimates by six cents at 62 cents a share, and boosted its full-year outlook. CEO Denise Morrison said that while she is generally pleased with Campbell's quarterly results, she was disappointed that the company's U.S. Beverages unit faced ongoing softness in juice category and heightened competition, and that the North America Foodservice business continued to be challenged by the loss of a major restaurant customer and structural shifts in the food service sector. "We are aggressively pursuing plans to improve the performance of these businesses," she said in a statement.