Stock Market

U.S. stock futures rally with eyes on Fed decision, earnings and Russia

U.S. stock index futures surged on Wednesday, with the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting in the spotlight, along with a fresh batch of earnings from Boeing, Tesla and other big names.

Microsoft shares were rising in premarket following the technology giant’s results.

How are stock-index futures trading?

On Tuesday, the Dow industrials
DJIA,
-0.19%

fell 66.77 points, or 0.2%, to close at 34,297.73. The index saw a more than 800-point drop at its session low early Tuesday, followed by a rise in the afternoon. The S&P 500 
SPX,
-1.22%

declined 53.68 points, or 1.2%, to end at 4,356.45 after a brief spell in correction territory. The Nasdaq Composite 
COMP,
-2.28%

 dropped 315.83 points, or 2.3%, to finish at 13,539.29.

Read: It’s Jerome Powell time — and one Wall Street bank warns the S&P 500 could fall another 20%. Goldman Sachs says the bull market will continue.

What’s driving the markets?

Investors have been whipsawed by recent volatility in equity markets, driven by disappointment over corporate earnings so far this quarter, tension between Russia and NATO over Ukraine, COVID-19 worries and, most of all, apprehension over the extent of Fed monetary policy tightening to come.

“Yesterday, major U.S. indices went from tears to laughter then back to tears, again,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, in a note to clients. “As such, seeking a dip has become a difficult exercise, and the strong corporate results have a little impact on the market’s bad faith these days.”

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Fears over tighter Fed policy have been reflected in the Nasdaq, down 13% this month. It fell into correction territory last week, down more than 10% from its record high in November. Dominated by interest-rate-sensitive growth stocks, the index has suffered blows from rising Treasury yields.

Markets largely expect the first Fed interest-rate hike won’t arrive until March, but Wednesday’s outcome and comments will still garner close attention. A decision will be announced at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, followed by a news conference with Chair Jerome Powell at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

“It’s probably soon time to chill for the Fed hawks, as the Fed hasn’t got anything to gain in sending out hawkish messages today: slaughtered equity markets won’t help them to get the inflation situation straight. On the contrary, a deep dive in the financial markets would only refrain the Fed from doing what it’s got to do and worsen inflation,” added Ozkardeskaya.

Data released Tuesday showed slippage in consumer confidence, on the back of rising prices and the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Apart from the Fed outcome, an advance report on trade in goods is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, followed by new home sales starts at 10 a.m. Eastern, both for December.

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Investors are sifting through a fresh batch of earnings, with a busy after-hours calednar as well, as Tesla , Intel
INTC,
-1.81%
,
Whirlpool
WHR,
+0.44%

and Xilinx
XLNX,
-6.66%

are all due to report.

Microsoft
MSFT,
-2.66%

sales topped $50 billion for the first time in its fiscal second quarter, as it reported earnings late Tuesday. Stocks initially fell, then rebounded after the company’s strong revenue forecast for the current quarter. Shares rose 3.5% in premarket trading.

Opinion: Microsoft stock’s post-earnings roller-coaster ride won’t be the last

The standoff between Russia and Western powers continued, amid concerns Moscow is planning an imminent invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian government warned Wednesday it would turn to “retaliatory measures” if the U.S. and its allies reject its security demands and continue “aggressive” policies.”

Which companies are in focus?
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How are other assets trading?
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note 
    TMUBMUSD10Y,
    1.789%

    was steady at 1.781%. Yields and debt prices move opposite each other.

  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
    DXY,
    +0.15%
    ,
     a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up around 0.1%.

  • Oil futures 
    CL00,
    +1.31%

    % rose, with West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery up nearly 1% to $86.45 a barrel. Gold futures 
    GC00,
    -0.31%

    slipped 0.3% to $1,846.90 an ounce, pulling back from a two-month high.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 
    SXXP,
    +2.07%

     rose 2.1%, while London’s FTSE 100 
    UKX,
    +1.74%

    gained 1.7%.

  • The Shanghai Composite 
    SHCOMP,
    +0.66%

    rose 0.6%, while the Hang Seng Index 
    HSI,
    +0.19%

    rose 0.1% in Hong Kong and Japan’s Nikkei 225 
    NIK,
    -0.44%

    fell 0.4%.

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