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Futures rise as bank fears ebb, focus shifts to key inflation data


Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday as easing fears of a banking crisis shifted the focus back to key consumer spending data due later in the week that could shape expectations for the Federal Reserve’s future policy path.

The banking turmoil, which started earlier in March with the collapse of two regional U.S. lenders, sparked concerns about a broader financial crisis and led to a dramatic shift in monetary policy expectations from the Fed.

Investors will now watch out for February data on the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index – the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge – that is due on Friday for further clues on the central bank’s rate-hike trajectory. January figures showed a sharp acceleration in consumer spending.

Traders’ bets are still tilted towards a pause in rate hikes in May, with rate cuts expected soon after that.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed higher on Wednesday as upbeat outlooks from Micron Technology (MU.O) and other companies allayed concerns about the health of the U.S. economy.

Major tech and growth names such as Microsoft (MSFT.O), Tesla (TSLA.O) and (AMZN.O), which were among the biggest boosts to equities in the previous session, rose between 0.2% and 0.6% before the bell.

Final estimates for quarterly U.S. economic growth are expected to confirm gross domestic product likely remained unchanged at 2.7% in the fourth quarter. The data is due at 8:30 am ET.

A separate report due at the same time is expected to show jobless claims rose last week, compared with the comparable period before that, hinting at some softening in the labor market.

Fed officials, including Boston Fed President Susan Collins and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, are also due to speak later in the day, with investors expected to parse their comments for clues on the central bank’s monetary policy plans following the banking crisis.

At 5:03 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 145 points, or 0.44%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 15.75 points, or 0.39%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 32.5 points, or 0.25%.

Among other stocks, Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc (FFIE.O) jumped 22.9% premarket after the company said it has started production of its first luxury electric car after a months-long delay.

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