Futures tick higher as focus turns to central banks

April 10, 2019

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose slightly on Wednesday after a bout of selling on trade and growth concerns, as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting and the start of the corporate earnings season.

The S&P 500 ended its eight-day rally on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion of European goods, opening a new front in his global trade war.

The International Monetary Fund’s global growth forecast cut also added to the gloom, with investors now banking on better-than-feared first-quarter earnings reports and patience on interest rate hikes from the Fed.

The U.S. central bank will release minutes from its March meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), giving more insight into the Fed’s thinking behind its move to suspend rate hikes this year.

The European Central Bank is also due to announce its policy decision before the opening bell on Wednesday, with more proposals of supportive policy likely to boost markets.

Data on U.S. consumer prices for March is due at 8:30 a.m. ET and the numbers are expected to have risen 0.3% in March after a 0.2% increase in February.

Earnings season begins in earnest on Friday when JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co report quarterly results.

In the wake of the Fed’s cautious shift and the subsequent drop in 10-year Treasury yields, S&P 500 banks are seen posting earnings growth of 1.9%, down from 8.2% forecast six months ago, according to Refinitiv data.

However, a lowered bar this quarter could prove a catalyst for sustaining a rally that began a decade ago, analysts say. The S&P 500 has risen 14.8% so far this year and is now just 1.8% below its record closing high hit on Sept. 20.

At 7:12 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 70 points, or 0.27%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 8 points, or 0.28% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.24%.

Levi Strauss & Co jumped 7.2% in premarket trading. The jeans maker posted a 7% rise in quarterly revenue after returning to public markets last month, driven by its strategy to invest in its retail stores and online business.

Delta Air Lines Co rose 2.8% after the carrier forecast second-quarter profit above Wall Street expectations.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 1.5% after Cowen and Co raised its price target on the chipmaker’s shares and said it was in a better competitive position than Intel Corp.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru)

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