Dow futures down 120 pts; Powell speech in focus

By Peter Nurse

© Reuters
Dow futures down 120 pts; Powell speech in focus — U.S. stocks are seen opening marginally lower Tuesday in cautious trading, ahead of a widely-anticipated speech by Fed chair Jerome Powell.

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At 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was down 120 points, or 0.4%, S&P 500 Futures traded 12 points, or 0.3% lower, and Nasdaq 100 Futures dropped 40 points, or 0.4%.

The three main indices closed in a mixed fashion Monday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average handing back early gains to end over 100 points, or 0.3% lower. The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.1%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6%, helped by gains in Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock, in particular.

U.S. equities have had a generally positive start to the new year, with investors expecting the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of its interest rate hikes, bringing down inflation without tipping the economy into a recession.

Money markets are now pricing in a 25-basis-point U.S. rate hike in February, down from 50 basis points in December, and 75 basis points in the four meetings before that.

That said, the sticky nature of inflation, with Thursday seeing the December CPI release, and comments from various Fed speakers will likely dictate market action before the next Federal Reserve meeting in early February.

With that in mind, Fed chief Powell is set to make a speech later Tuesday at a bank symposium in Sweden, and this will be carefully studied for further clarity on the pace of rate hikes.

In the corporate sector, earnings season is also about to kick off, with the big banks starting off the season at the end of the week.

Ahead of that, grocery chain Albertsons Companies (NYSE:ACI) is due to report this session, along with struggling home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY).

Oil prices edged higher Tuesday, ahead of the release of weekly data from the American Petroleum Institute on U.S. crude inventories later in the session, which can be used as a guide towards demand in the largest consumer in the world.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, is also due to release its short-term energy outlook.

By 07:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% higher at $75.03 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.4% to $79.97.

Both benchmarks climbed 1% on Monday, after China, the world’s biggest oil importer and second-largest consumer, opened its borders over the weekend for the first time in three years.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,879.75/oz, while EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.0738.

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