Futures rise in run-up to inflation figures, retail sales data

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 6:32 AM

By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) – Futures tracking Wall Street’s main stock indexes advanced on Thursday as investors awaited a raft of economic data, including the producer prices numbers, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week.

All eyes are on the February producer prices data, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, which will provide insights into the inflation picture, and the retail sales figures that could offer additional clues about consumer spending patterns.

Also on tap is the weekly jobless claims data at the same time, a marker of the labor market’s strength.

Tuesday’s marginally hotter-than-expected consumer price data failed to dampen hopes for rate cuts by the Fed in the coming months, with traders seeing a 69% chance that the first rate cut will come in June, according to the CME’s FedWatch Tool.

“Action Economics reminds us that inflation is coming down, but very slowly, which will likely keep the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) awaiting further reports to confirm that prices are cooling,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, in a note.

The raft of economic data comes ahead of the Fed’s policy meeting next week, where the focus will be on possible cues on how soon the central bank could kick off the rate-easing cycle.

“With no rate cut expected, the focus will be squarely on dot plots and potential shifts,” Stovall said.

At 7:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 116 points, or 0.30%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.5 points, or 0.32%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 79 points, or 0.43%.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed lower on Wednesday, as investors booked profits from high-flying chip stocks ahead of the key data.

Chipmakers such as Micron Technology and Intel recovered 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively, in premarket trading after falling more than 3% each in the previous session.

Most megacap growth and technology stocks inched higher, but artificial intelligence (AI) giant Nvidia slipped 0.8%, while Tesla shed 1.4% after UBS trimmed its price target on the stock.

Shares of Robinhood Markets jumped 11.5% after the trading app operator said its assets under custody rose 16% in February.

Citigroup added 1.6% after Goldman Sachs raised the lender’s rating to “buy” from “neutral”.

SentinelOne dropped 11.4% after the cybersecurity firm forecast FY25 revenue below analysts’ expectations.

Aerospace and defense company RTX gained 2.0% after Wells Fargo upgraded its rating to “overweight” from “equal weight”.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s real estate head said the firm would resume “actively investing” in U.S. commercial property this year because the market was bottoming out.

Investors are looking ahead to the global GTC developer conference from March 18 to 21 for AI-related announcements.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)