Futures rise as megacap, chip stocks bounce

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 4:53 AM

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures ticked up on Tuesday as most megacap and chip stocks advanced, while investors readied for more data to assess the Federal Reserve’s rate path in a week curtailed by the Easter long-weekend break.

Wall Street ended the previous session slightly lower, with the S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow coming off their best weekly performance so far this year.

The spotlight remains locked on a crucial February reading of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, due on Friday, when the U.S. markets will be shut for the Good Friday holiday.

The index is expected to have risen 0.4% in February and 2.5% on an annual basis. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy components, is estimated to have risen 0.3% last month, which would keep the annual pace at 2.8%, as per economists polled by Reuters.

A hot reading for the PCE index can potentially hamper market optimism around early rate-cuts.

Wall Street rallied to fresh record highs last week when Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that recent high inflation readings had not changed the underlying “story” of slowly easing price pressures, and the central bank stayed on track for three interest rate cuts this year.

Traders see an at least 70% chance that the Fed will begin its easing cycle in June, as per the CME FedWatch tool, up from a near 59% chance seen early last week.

Fed officials said on Monday they still had faith that U.S. inflation will ease, but also acknowledged an increased sense of caution around the debate.

The data calendar is relatively light on Tuesday, with March consumer confidence and February durable goods readings due later in the day.

Trading activity is expected to be light owing to the upcoming long weekend break.

At 5:22 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 81 points, or 0.2%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.34%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 91 points, or 0.49%.

Most megacap growth stocks edged higher in premarket trading, with Tesla leading the charge, up 3.4%.

Chip stocks looked set to continue their strong run, with Micron Technology rising 1.9% after hitting a record high in the last session, while industry giant Nvidia gained 0.9%.

Trump Media & Technology group advanced 17.8% ahead of its first day of trading after completing a reverse merger with a blank check firm.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)