Futures drop as rate hike worries persist

By Thomson Reuters Aug 22, 2022 | 6:48 AM

(Reuters) – Wall Street futures fell on Monday, setting all three major U.S. stock indexes for a dour start to the week, as investors worried about hawkish signals from Federal Reserve policymakers in the face of slowing economic growth.

A four-week summer rally for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 snapped last week as megacap growth companies slumped on Friday, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield hitting nearly 3% on inflation fears.

High-growth and technology companies such as Apple Inc and Tesla Inc fell 1.5% and 2.1%, respectively, in trading before the bell on Monday.

Lenders JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America fell more than 1% each amid a broader risk-off mood. Banking giants collectively face more than $1 billion in regulatory fines for employees’ use of unapproved messaging tools, including email and apps such as WhatsApp.

The CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose to 23.10, its highest level in over two weeks.

Focus this week is on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at a central banking conference in Jackson Hole on Friday for further cues on the central bank’s monetary policy tightening path.

“The market is now going through a digestion phase, triggered by weaker-than-expected economic reports and anxiety ahead of statements and policy indications expected to emerge from the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

“The big uncertainty remains the size of the rate hike at the September FOMC meeting.”

According to economists in a Reuters poll, the Fed will raise rates by 50 basis points in September amid expectations inflation has peaked and growing recession worries.

Traders are also expecting a slightly higher chance of a 50 bps hike over a third 75 bps hike, even as several Fed policymakers have pushed back against expectations of a dovish pivot and emphasized the fight against inflation is ongoing.

Investors will also be looking for details on the central bank’s plans to reduce its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet, a process that started in June.

The Fed’s favored inflation gauge, the PCE price index, will also be released this week.

With recession fears lingering and investors eager for any clues about the economy’s strength, other U.S. data will be closely awaited this week, including flash PMIs, the second estimate of second quarter GDP and University of Michigan consumer sentiment.

At 07:07 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 286 points, or 0.85%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 46 points, or 1.09%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 193.25 points, or 1.46%.

Signify Health Inc jumped 40.5% following a report on Sunday that UnitedHealth Group Inc, Amazon.com Inc, CVS Health Corp and Option Care Health Inc are bidding to acquire the company.

AMC Entertainment Holdings tumbled 31.5% after peer Cineworld, the world’s second-largest cinema operator warned of a possible bankruptcy filing.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)