Wall St eyes higher open as investors assess interest rate outlook


BENGALURU: Wall Street's main indexes were set to open higher on Thursday as investors assessed the outlook for monetary policy amid growing concerns about an economic downturn following aggressive interest rate hikes to tackle inflation.

Global stock markets slumped in the first half of the year against the backdrop of a surge in inflation, the Ukraine conflict and the U.S. Federal Reserve's pivot away from easy-money policy.

U.S. stock indexes ended higher on Wednesday after seesawing for most of the session as minutes of the Fed's policy meeting in June showed a firm restatement of the central bank's intent to get prices under control.

The Fed raised its policy rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in June, the biggest since 1994, with market participants anticipating a similar move in July.

However, officials from the central bank acknowledged the risk of rate increases having a "larger-than-anticipated" impact on economic growth and judged that an increase of 50 or 75 basis points would likely be appropriate at the policy meeting later this month.

"(The Fed meeting minutes were) a little bit less hawkish yesterday and that's why you are seeing the market start to reallocate to equities here," Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas, said.

"If next week's inflation data is soft, 50 bps hike is on the table ... that is a good thing, especially when we were talking about 75 and some Fed members were saying as much as one point."

As central banks across the world move to aggressively raise borrowing costs, fears of a recession have mounted, with oil and commodity prices also taking a hit in the recent days.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are down 19.3% and 27.4%, respectively, so far this year after suffering a turbulent first half that saw high-growth and technology stocks getting hammered.

At 08:40 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 156 points, or 0.5%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 14 points, or 0.36%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 43 points, or 0.36%.

GameStop Corp's shares rose 5.6% in premarket trading as the videogame retailer's board approved a four-for-one stock split.

Intel Corp, Nvidia Corp and Qualcomm Inc rose after South Korea's Samsung Electronics turned in its best second-quarter profit since 2018, driven by strong sales of memory chips.

Investors will keep a close eye on earnings reports, as well as economic data, including the June nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, to gauge the health of the economy.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week and demand for labor is slowing, data showed, with layoffs surging to a 16-month high in June. - Reuters

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