Stock futures rise on Apple relief

January 30, 2019

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, as Apple Inc’s results offered some relief to markets ahead of the Federal Reserve’s outlook on monetary policy and another round of U.S.-China trade talks.

The iPhone maker’s shares rose 5.6 percent in premarket trading after the company reported a sharp growth in services business and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said trade tensions between the United States and China were easing.

The report assuaged worries after Apple earlier this month cut its sales forecast, blaming slowing sales in China. Its stock last closed about 32 percent below a record high it hit in October.

Stocks have been marred in the past two sessions by fears of a slowdown in China threatening one of the longest U.S. expansions in history and weakening profits after a series of warnings from U.S. bellwethers.

Washington and Beijing officials will meet next door to the White House on Wednesday in the highest-level talks since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war in December.

Investors also awaited results from other Dow components which have major exposure to China including industrial giant Boeing Co and fast food chain McDonald’s Corp. Boeing rose 1.2 percent while McDonald’s climbed 0.2 percent.

The Fed is scheduled to release its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT). While the central bank is not expected to adjust its policy, the language in the statement will be scrutinized carefully for signs of Chairman Jerome Powell’s willingness to pause the central bank’s gradual interest rate increases.

Fed policymakers have been clear they plan to be “patient” about further tightening in the face of an overseas slowdown and market volatility.

ADP national employment report, due at 8:15 a.m. ET, is expected to show private payrolls increased by 178,000 jobs in January after surging 271,000 in December. The data comes ahead of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

At 7:03 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 98 points, or 0.4 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 8.5 points, or 0.32 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 57.25 points, or 0.86 percent.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc jumped 9.9 percent after the chipmaker reported record quarterly growth in data center sales and projected 2019 revenue growth above Wall Street estimates.

Shares of rival Intel Corp dipped 0.3 percent. Other chip stocks rose with Micron Technology Inc, Nvidia Corp, Lam Research Corp up between 1.7 percent and 2 percent.

Health insurer Anthem Inc rose 2.7 percent after the company topped quarterly profit estimates and said it was speeding up the launch of its in-house pharmacy benefits management business.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)