U.S. stock index futures fell on Tuesday as investors turned cautious ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell after two other policymakers fanned concerns about the rate hike trajectory.
Powell is set to speak at a panel discussion at 9 am ET. His speech could provide clarity on the outlook for interest rates.
“He is going to say inflation is still an issue, but they (the Federal Reserve) are going to be closely watching it and monitoring the data,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc in San Antonio.
Powell is likely to say the Fed will keep raising rates until it sees inflation is under control, Matousek added.
Wall Street’s main indexes gave up early gains on Monday after two Fed policymakers said the upcoming inflation data will help them decide if they could slow the pace of interest rate hikes to a quarter-point increase at a February policy meeting.
Their comments dampened hopes that inflation in the United States had peaked and the Fed may soon signal an end to its rate hiking cycle, bolstered by data last week that showed a moderation in wage increases.
Meanwhile, Boeing Co (BA.N) dipped 2.7% in premarket trade on a report that Morgan Stanley downgraded the U.S. planemaker’s rating to “equal weight” from “overweight”.
The Fed’s aggressive monetary policy tightening to curb decades-high inflation hammered U.S. equities in 2022, with the three main indexes logging their steepest annual declines since 2008.
Investors are now keenly awaiting the U.S. Labor Department’s consumer prices report on Thursday. It is expected to show some moderation in year-on-year consumer prices in December.
Money market bets pointed to a 77% chance of a 25-bps hike to 4.50%-4.75% in the Fed’s upcoming policy meeting, with the terminal rate seen slightly below 5% by June.
Along with economic data and comments from Fed officials, investors are also awaiting corporate earnings reports, with big U.S. banks expected to report lower fourth-quarter profits this week.
At 8:02 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 162 points, or 0.48%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 19.5 points, or 0.5%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 76.75 points, or 0.69%.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O) gained 11% after the home goods retailer posted lower quarterly expenses driven by aggressive cost reduction initiatives.