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Futures tiptoe higher ahead of more economic data, Powell testimony

Wall Street futures edged higher on Thursday ahead of more economic data and commentary from Jerome Powell after the Federal Reserve chair stuck to the script overnight by saying the central bank still expects to cut rates later this year.

Mr. Powell said rate reductions will “likely be appropriate” later this year, “if the economy evolves broadly as expected” and once officials gain more confidence in inflation’s steady decline.

The comments kept alive investors’ expectations of an interest rate cut in June, giving a boost to U.S equities, which had faltered in the days leading up to the testimony.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed higher on Wednesday, with rate-sensitive technology and chip stocks in the lead.

“The much awaited Powell testimony did not provide many surprises. We still expect a 25bp (basis point) cut starting in June and 75-100bp of cuts this year,” Mohit Kumar, Jefferies’ chief economist for Europe, said in a note.

All eyes will be back on Powell who is set to wrap up his two-day testimony on Thursday.

Investors also awaited jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), which, along with the crucial nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, could provide further details on the strength of the US labor market.

resilient labor market could make it difficult for the Fed to start cutting interest rates in June, given risks of a pick-up in inflationary pressures.

At 6:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 33 points, or 0.09%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 10.25 points, or 0.2%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 66.75 points, or 0.37%.

Electric carmaker Tesla lagged megacap growth and technology peers in premarket trading, down 1.6%.

Chip stocks such as Nvidia and Micron Technology MU.O gained 1.9% and 3.3%, respectively, and were set to extend their rally from the previous session.

Lingerie maker Victoria’s Secret & Co dropped 30.7% on a weak annual forecast.

Eli Lilly shed 1.6% after rival Novo Nordisk said early trial data for its highly anticipated experimental drug, amycretin, showed that participants had a weight loss of 13.1% after 12 weeks. – Reuters

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