U.S. stock futures point to steady start even with PacWest turmoil


U.S. stock futures were inching higher Thursday as traders contemplated the latest Fed decision, more banking sector stress, and Apple’s impending results.

How are stock-index futures trading
  • S&P 500 futures ES00, -0.10% rose 3 points, or 0.1%, to 4111
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YM00, -0.08% added 6 points, or 0%, to 33498
  • Nasdaq 100 futures NQ00, +0.20% climbed 40 points, or 0.3%, to 13140

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.80% fell 270 points, or 0.8%, to 33414, the S&P 500 SPX, -0.70% declined 29 points, or 0.7%, to 4091, and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.46% dropped 55 points, or 0.46%, to 12025.

What’s driving markets

Results from Apple AAPL, -0.65%, the market’s biggest company, which are due after the closing bell on Thursday, will move into sharper focus as the session progresses.

But before that investors must contend with disappointment over the Federal Reserve’s policy stance and renewed fretting about the U.S. regional banking sector that have delivered volatile trading over the past 24 hours and left stock-index futures struggling to rally.

The S&P 500 slid 0.7% on Wednesday after the Fed again raised interest rates and irked some traders by seeming equivocal on whether the implied pause in monetary tightening meant the cycle of rate hikes were at an end and cuts could come soon.

“As widely expected, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a further 0.25%, which of itself was not market moving. Of rather more interest was the implication that the rate hiking cycle had now ended, even though the Fed remains poised to act again if necessary,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“At the same time, the Fed dampened expectations for any interest rate reductions in the immediate future, contrary to investor hopes that some kind of easing may follow before the end of the year, depending on the severity of any potential recession,” he added.

Traders will also be keeping an eye out for any surprises when the European Central Bank delivers its policy decision at 2:15 p.m. Central European time (8:15 a.m. Eastern).

Then, late on Wednesday, just hours after Fed Chair Jay Powell said that the banking sector was “sound and resilient” shares in PacWest Bancorp PACW, -1.98% plunged 50% in after-hours trading after reports the struggling regional bank’s executives were weighing a possible sale.

Stock index futures dived further in response on fears of continued turmoil in the financial sector. But though they have managed to recover much of those secondary losses the febrile action signals a nervous market, analysts noted.

“It looks like more trouble is brewing for the U.S. banking sector, on the contrary to what Powell said yesterday,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote.

Other company results due on Thursday include Moderna MRNA, -0.96%, Peloton PTON, +2.56%, Kellogg K, +0.49%, before the opening bell rings, followed by Lyft LYFT, +2.35% and Shopify SHOP, -1.09% after the close.

U.S. economic updates set for release on Thursday include weekly initial jobless claims; first quarter productivity and unit labor costs; and the March trade deficit. All are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

This article was originally published by Marketwatch.com. Read the original article here.

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