Futures gain as Fed sticks to rate cut projections; Micron rally lifts chipmakers

By Thomson Reuters Mar 21, 2024 | 4:43 AM

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday as chipmakers tracked sharp gains in Micron Technology and investors took comfort in the Federal Reserve sticking to its three-rate-cut view for this year.

Wall Street rallied on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 notching a record high, after U.S. central bankers kept borrowing costs unchanged and indicated they still expect to ease interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point by the end of 2024.

The CME FedWatch tool showed the market is pricing in a 76.4% chance of a Fed rate cut in June, compared with around 56% at the beginning of the week.

“The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting concluded on a more dovish tone than even the optimistic marketplace had anticipated,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

“The Street went into this meeting expecting three cuts this year, with the first coming by mid-year, and that is what appears to have been communicated, as Chair Powell did not push back against market expectations for a rate cut in June.”

Chipmaker Micron Technology jumped 16.8% in trading before the bell, after posting a surprise quarterly profit and forecasting third-quarter revenue above estimates.

Peers such as Intel and Nvidia added more than 1% each, while Western Digital jumped 6%.

Investors awaited data on weekly jobless claims and business activity due later in the day.

At 05:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 116 points, or 0.29%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 21.75 points, or 0.41%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 138.25 points, or 0.75%.

Most rate-sensitive megacap growth and technology stocks also advanced in premarket trading.

Apple, however, fell 1.1% on a report that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to sue the company as soon as Thursday for allegedly violating antitrust laws.

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