Wall Street set to climb as focus shifts to Fed

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

February 26, 2018

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a strong start for Wall Street on Monday, with investors hoping that new Fed chair Jerome Powell will keep the U.S. central bank on a steady course of monetary tightening.

Powell faces questions from both houses of the U.S. Congress in a semi-annual testimony starting on Tuesday, his first major set piece since he took over from Janet Yellen earlier this month.

His testimony comes at a time when investors have been anxious about the pace of interest rate hikes, which have weighed on equity markets globally.

“There’s some talk of him (Powell) being a little more open to tolerating inflation running above the 2 percent target. The focus will be to see if he is indeed open to that and the rationale behind it,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.

The Fed said on Friday it expected economic growth to remain steady and saw no serious risks on the horizon that might pause its planned pace of rate hikes.

The week is heavy on data, with a report on personal consumption expenditure, the Fed’s favorite gauge of inflation, expected on Thursday.

By 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMc1> had gained 143 points, S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> added 10 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> rose 27 points.

Among stocks, Qualcomm <QCOM.O> shares rose 2.8 percent in premarket trading after the chipmaker urged Broadcom <AVGO.O> to enter into price negotiations on its $117 billion offer for the company.

GE <GE.N> shares rose marginally after the industrial conglomerate nominated three new candidates to its board.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield eased to 2.8405 percent <US10YT=RR>, continuing a slip from the four-year high hit last week, while the CBOE Volatility index <.VIX>, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was last at 16.53.

A report on U.S. new home sales, due at 10:00 a.m. ET, is likely to show sales increased 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 645,000 units in January.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source link