Stocks tread water with Fed’s Powell on deck

Stock futures hit pause on Wall Street’s red-hot run of gains on Wednesday, as investors waited for comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as they assess whether the central bank is done with interest-rate hikes.

S&P 500 (^GSPC) futures hovered just above the flatline, after closing higher for the seventh straight day in the benchmark index’s longest win streak since 2021. Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) and Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) futures were also broadly unchanged.

Words of caution from several hawkish members of the Fed have put a check on optimism that interest rates have peaked, sapping momentum from the rally in stocks. But 90% of traders are sticking with their bet there won’t be a hike this year, and 25% expect a rate cut in March, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Read more: What the Fed rate-hike pause means for bank accounts, CDs, loans, and credit cards

The market is now on high alert for what Powell has to say about the Fed’s thinking when he speaks at a conference on Wednesday morning — in particular, whether it’s winning the battle to cool inflation. Several other central bank officials are slated to appear later, including New York Fed President John Williams.

Oil prices — a key input into inflation levels — slipped on Wednesday, after sinking to their lowest levels in three months the previous day as concerns grew about demand from China and the US. West Texas Intermediate crude futures (CL=F) and Brent crude futures (BZ=F) were both almost 1% lower, dropping to $76.82 and $81.12 a barrel, respectively.

  • Stocks in holding pattern with Powell comments ahead

    US futures were broadly unchanged on Wednesday as investors waited for commentary by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for insight into the path of interest rates.

    Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) were up 0.06%, or 20 points, while S&P 500 (^GSPC) futures added 0.02%. Contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) fell 0.06%.

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