Stock futures trade cautiously higher despite inflation concerns – Fox Business

U.S. equity futures are trading cautiously, searching for direction.

The major futures indxes suggest a gain of 0.1% at the opening bell.

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Shares fell Wednesday as investors weighed the possibility that inflation might prompt central banks to adjust their ultra-low interest rate policies, despite reassurances from the chair of the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told Congress Tuesday the Fed didn’t see a need to alter its policy of keeping interest rates ultra-low, noting that the economic recovery “remains uneven and far from complete.”

FED’S POWELL SAYS US ECONOMIC OUTLOOK STILL ‘HIGHLY UNCERTAIN,’ BUT WIDER VACCINE ROLLOUT KEY

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, investors have pushed prices of Big Tech stocks to stratospheric heights, betting that quarantined consumers would do most of their shopping online and spend more on devices and services for entertainment.

The bet mostly paid off. But the pandemic may be reaching its end stages, with millions of vaccines being administered each week in the U.S. and across the globe now. It may cause consumers to return to their pre-pandemic habits.

In Europe, London’s FTSE added 0.1%, Germany’s DAX added 0.8% and France’s CAC was gaining 0.3%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 1.6%, Hong Kong led the decline, losing 3% and China’s Shanghai Composite index gave up 2%.

Hong Kong’s government announced pandemic relief measures worth $15.4 billion to help the territory recovery from the blow to its economy, which contracted 6.1% last year.

On the earnings front, a handful of retailers will post quarterly numbers on Wednesday; Lowe’s, TJX Companies and Overstock.com are out ahead of the opening bell, with Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands posting after the close. On the media side we’ll hear from Sinclair Broadcast Group in the morning and ViacomCBS in the afternoon.

On the economic calendar,  the Census Bureau is expected to say that sales of new single-family homes rose 2.1% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 855,000.

HOME PRICES CLIMB BY FASTEST PACE IN 7 YEARS

A late-afternoon burst of buying on Wall Street on Tuesday helped reverse most of a tech-focused sell-off, nudging the S&P 500 to its first gain after a five-day losing streak.

The benchmark index eked out a 0.1% gain, to 3,881.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 0.1%, to 31,537.35. The Nasdaq lost 0.5% to 13,465.20. The indexes were at all-time highs less than two weeks ago.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 31537.35 +15.66 +0.05%
SP500 S&P 500 3881.37 +4.87 +0.13%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13465.198124 -67.85 -0.50%

More broadly, investors remain focused on the future of global economies badly hit by COVID-19 and the potential for more stimulus to fix them. The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote on President Biden’s proposed stimulus package by the end of the week. It would include $1,400 checks to most Americans, additional payments for children, and billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments as well as additional aid to businesses impacted by the pandemic.

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In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 28 cents to $61.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 3 cents on Tuesday to $61.67 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 38 cents to $65.75 per barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.