By Ankika Biswas and Johann M Cherian
(Reuters) -U.S. main stock index futures were flat on Tuesday, as investors assessed mixed corporate results from legacy names such as United Parcel Service and General Motors while awaiting a key jobs report that could offer clues into the labor market health.
United Parcel Service fell 7% in premarket trading after it forecast annual revenue below Street estimates, as the world’s biggest package delivery company faces sluggish demand from e-commerce firms. Peer FedEx also lost 2%.
General Motors, on the other hand, jumped 8.3% after the automotive giant forecast upbeat earnings for 2024 and signaled more capital return to shareholders. Ford Motor also gained 2.7%.
Pfizer gained 1.1% after the drugmaker reported a surprise quarterly profit as COVID products demand was better than the company’s expectations and research costs declined.
With the U.S. Federal Reserve kicking off its two-day policy meeting during the day, all eyes will be now on the Labor Department’s JOLTS report at 10 a.m. ET, which is expected to show job openings fell to 8.750 million in December.
Investors will closely monitor the Fed’s policy decision on Wednesday for any clues on when the U.S. central bank could start interest-rate cuts. The Fed is widely expected to leave the key benchmark rate unchanged at 5.25% to 5.50%.
“The Fed is very likely to cut short-term rates in May or June in response to PCE Core plunging very close to its arbitrary 2% target,” Infrastructure Capital Advisors CEO Jay Hatfield said in a note.
Hatfield expects long-term global interest rates to rapidly decline due to rate cuts across major central banks, and propel both stock and bond prices.
While hopes of nearing rate cuts have supported a steep ascent in megacaps, quarterly company earnings will be key in rationalizing the rich valuations of the momentum stocks after Tesla and Intel disappointed investors with bleak forecasts last week.
Microsoft and Alphabet will be detailing their reports after market close. While the impact of generative AI is expected to steer the best revenue growth in nearly two years for Microsoft, the effect is likely to be muted for Alphabet’s advertising business.
Alphabet was up 0.1% and Microsoft 0.7%.
Recent gains in megacaps and chip stocks have helped the benchmark S&P 500 notch several new records, including another intraday record of 4,929.31 points on Monday, following a double-digit rally seen in the final two months of 2023.
While BlackRock raised its overall U.S. stocks view to “overweight” from “neutral” on Monday, Citigroup lowered its mid-2024 S&P 500 target to 4,800 points from 5,000 points, allowing for economic softening during the first half.
At 7:14 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 57 points, or 0.15%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 6.25 points, or 0.13%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 17.75 points, or 0.1%.
Super Micro Computer jumped 12.1%, after the server seller projected stronger-than-expected quarterly sales, and was set to extend its recent AI-fueled rally.
(Reporting by Ankika Biswas and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)
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