US STOCKS-Futures inch higher ahead of Powell speech

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 02/07/23 06:15 AM EST


Futures: S&P up 0.13%, Nasdaq up 0.27%, Dow flat

Feb 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Tuesday, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell later in the day that will be parsed for further clues on how long the central bank will keep interest rates higher.

Powell's speech, due at 12:40 p.m. EST (1740 GMT) before the Economic Club of Washington, will be closely monitored after a strong jobs report last week stymied rising hopes of less aggressive monetary policy.

"A strengthening labor market theoretically makes it less likely that the Federal Reserve will halt interest rate rises anytime soon," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"The Fed needs to see both the jobs market and inflation start to cool before it can justify changing its stance on rates."

Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose the most among futures tracking Wall Street's three main indexes.

Heavyweight Microsoft Corp (MSFT) rose 0.9% in premarket trading. It is expected to reveal its investment in chatbot sensation ChatGPT later in the day.

Boeing Inc climbed 1.1% after the U.S. planemaker confirmed on Monday that it expects to cut about 2,000 white-collar jobs through attrition and layoffs.

Expectations of high rates for a protracted period dragged Wall Street's main indexes down on Monday. But, all three major averages are in the black for 2023, with the Nasdaq adding 13.6%, led by a revival in battered mega-cap growth stocks.

Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results before the opening bell, while Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG) reports after the close.

So far, 254 companies on the S&P 500 have reported quarterly earnings, with 69.3% of them beating expectations, according to Refinitiv. Still, analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings to decline 2.8%.

At 5:45 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.01%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.25 points, or 0.13%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 34 points, or 0.27%.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) plunged 31.7% premarket as the embattled home-goods retailer seeks a $1 billion raise in a last-ditch effort to avoid bankruptcy. (Reporting by Shubham Batra in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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