Stock futures rise as investors assess Fed update

Finance

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 18, 2022 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Stock futures rose on Wednesday night after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell provided an update on the central bank’s plans to raise rates, saying there’s “quite a bit of room” to do so before hurting the labor market.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 97 points, or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively.

Some tech shares were higher in extended trading, after continued swings in the regular session. Netflix jumped more than 4% on news that Pershing’s Bill Ackman bought 3.1 million shares. Tesla gained almost 3% following a strong earnings report. Meanwhile, Intel lost 2%, despite strong earnings.

In regular trading, the Dow ended the day down 129 points, after gaining more than 500 points at one point, following the Fed’s update. The S&P 500 lost 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite was little changed, with a boost from Microsoft’s post-earnings gain.

The week’s volatility continued on Wednesday and stocks took a turn lower after the Fed concluded its two-day meeting and signaled rate hikes ahead to fight persistent inflation. After chair Jerome Powell’s post-meeting remarks, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield climbed above 1.8%.

“While offering some clarity on how the Fed would begin the process of removing policy accommodation, the outcome of the meeting fell short in providing the needed guidance on the timing and magnitude of the shift in policy,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.

Uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of the Fed’s plans to tighten monetary policy had been building since the December meeting.

“Today’s meeting has market participants fully convinced that a March hike is certain, but with Chairman Powell not making any timing commitments, the door is slightly open for a slower moving Fed,” Ripley added.

Upholdings’ Robert Cantwell said the markets experienced a relief rally following Microsoft’s strong earnings report Tuesday night, which appeared to be a “good bellwether” for social media, gaming, software and other Nasdaq categories before the Fed update.

“The market in our view is totally overshooting and losing its mind, creating great opportunities for long term growth investors to snap up lots of great shares because, interestingly, it hasn’t really affected companies that actually carry debt,” Cantwell said of the Fed rates. “Since the end of last year the market has been most aggressively discounting companies that are going to generate more cash in the future than they’re generating today… We’re a little upside down now.”

Thursday is a packed morning for earnings, with Mastercard, Deutsche Bank, Blackstone, Southwest Air and JetBlue all scheduled to report quarterly results before the bell. Danaher, Valero and Northrop Grumman are also set to report.

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