Futures inch up on megacap support; earnings, Fed comments on tap

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 5:27 AM

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday as most megacap growth stocks gained, while investors awaited earnings and commentary from the central bank’s policymakers to gauge how corporate America was faring.

Megacap growth names such as Microsoft, Amazon.com and Tesla advanced between 0.3% and 1.1% in premarket trading.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed lower in the previous session, bogged down by climbing Treasury yields.

Government bond yields eased slightly, with the 10-year note last at 4.6407%.

Fed Board Governor Michelle Bowman and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are scheduled to speak later in the day.

Top U.S. central bank officials including Fed Chair Jerome Powell refrained from providing any guidance on when interest rates may be cut. On Tuesday, they said monetary policy needed to be restrictive for longer, dashing investors’ hopes for meaningful reductions in borrowing costs this year.

“While stopping short of mentioning rate hikes, Chairman Powell on Tuesday highlighted that ‘the recent data have not given greater confidence in inflation’, Achilleas Georgolopoulos, investment analyst at forex broker XM said in a note.

“With Vice Chairman Jefferson indirectly stating that rate cuts could be a long way off, Bowman and Mester could also appear hawkish today and potentially inflict further damage to market sentiment amidst a very light US data calendar.”

Money market participants see an over 43% chance the Fed could begin its easing cycle in July, as per the CME FedWatch tool.

On the earnings front, insurer Travelers Cos, medical device maker Abbott Laboratories and lender U.S. Bancorp are some of the companies slated to report quarterly results before the opening bell.

At 5:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 139 points, or 0.37%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 15 points, or 0.29%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 18.25 points, or 0.10%.

Among headlining stocks, United Airlines gained 5.2% after forecasting stronger-than-expected earnings in the current quarter.

Other airline stocks such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines added around 1% each.

JB Hunt Transport Services dipped 4.9% after the trucking firm missed Wall Street estimates for first-quarter results.

Apparel retailer Urban Outfitters fell 3.5% after Jefferies downgraded its rating to “underperform” from “hold”.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)