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Stock futures are flat as investors weigh the Fed’s next policy move

by WOOWinvest
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Stock futures are flat as investors weigh the Fed’s next policy move

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, Oct. 12, 2022.

Source: NYSE

Stock futures inched higher Monday as investors weighed a potential slowdown, or pause, from the Federal Reserve and braced for a busy earnings week.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 75 points, or 0.22%. S&P 500 futures inched 0.15% higher, while Nasdaq 100 added 0.2%.

On Friday, the major averages rallied to finish the week after briefly losing the momentum of the January rally. The Nasdaq posted a slight gain for the week. However, the Dow and S&P each logged losing weeks. All of the major averages remain in the green for the month. The Nasdaq is leading the others with a 6.44% year-to-date gain.

Investors have been weighing the possibility that the Fed is getting ready to slow the pace of its inflation-fighting rate hikes after economic data last week showed a decline in wholesale prices and retail sales.

On Friday, investors absorbed comments from Fed Governor Christopher Waller favoring a quarter percentage point rate increase at the next meeting. A Wall Street Journal report Sunday, meanwhile, raised the possibility of a spring pause to rate increases — a sign that the Fed could be nearing the end of its rate hiking campaign.

“With investors growing more confident on the inflation side, it is clear they are now looking beyond the current hiking cycle, to an eventual pause and potentially even cuts down the line,” wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Henry Allen in a note to clients Monday. “But with investors now priced for good news on inflation, the risk is that if inflation does prove more persistent, then we could be in another bear market rally just as we saw last summer.”

Markets have priced in a 99.7% chance of a 25-basis point hike, according to CME Group data, which would bring the interest rate to a targeted range of 4.5%-4.75%.

No speeches from Fed officials are on the calendar ahead of the central bank policy meeting on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Investors, however, will monitor another batch of economic data, including the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditure price index, due out Friday.

In the meantime, earnings reports could keep the market on edge, with about 40% of the Dow scheduled to release their latest financial results and offer more insight into how companies are weathering inflation and interest rates. Some of the big names on deck include Microsoft, IBM, Tesla, Visa and Mastercard.

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