Wednesday February 28th


US stocks set for a positive open after sharp decline

U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher ahead of Wednesday's open, as investors tried to shrug off concerns following a testimony by the chair of the Federal Reserve. Around 6:55 a.m. ET, Dow futures were up 9 points, indicating a rise of 39.97 points at the open. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 futures also pointed to a relatively positive open. The moves in U.S. futures came after Wall Street finished the previous trading session on a negative note. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average sank almost 300 pointsafter Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank could raise interest rates three or more times during 2018 to prevent the U.S. economy from overheating. Powell's comments consequently encouraged rates to rise in the bond market, pushing equities into the red during Tuesday's session. As investors try to shrug off concerns about higher interest rates, a slew of events are expected to keep investors busy during today's session. On the data front, a second estimate of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) data is slated to come out at 8:30 a.m. ET, with investors set to see if there's any clues as to how the U.S. economy is performing. At 9:45 a.m. ET, Chicago purchasing managers' index (PMI) data is due, followed by pending home sales data at 10 a.m. ET. Mortgage applications will also be released at the usual weekly time of 7 a.m. ET. Overseas, stocks in both Europe and Asia were slipping into the red during their respective sessions. The Nikkei 225 declined 321.62 points, or 1.44 percent, to end at 22,068.24, paring some of its recent gains. South Korea's Kospi fell 1.17 percent to close at 2,427.36. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which traded in positive territory earlier in the day, closed lower by 0.68 percent as other tech stocks recorded declines. Meanwhile, greater China markets extended losses after declining in the last session. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 423.94 points, or 1.36 percent, to close at 30,844.72. Markets in mainland China were mixed: The Shanghai composite lost 0.99 percent, but the Shenzhen composite pared early losses to close higher by 0.16 percent. Oil prices struggled to stay in positive territory on Wednesday after data showed industrial activity in some of the world's major crude-consuming nations has softened. May Brent crude futures were up 5 cents at $66.57 a barrel by 1005 GMT, while the front-month April contract, which expires on Wednesday, was also up 5 cents at $66.68 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 5 cents at $62.96 a barrel. Gold prices steadied on Wednesday after falling more than 1 percent in the previous session after new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's comments suggested the possibility of four U.S. interest rate increases this year rather than three. The dollar hit a three-week high versus a currency index, with investors still bullish after Powell noted rising U.S. inflation and vowed to prevent overheating in the economy. A strong dollar makes dollar-priced gold costlier for investors using other currencies. Spot gold had edged up 0.07 percent to $1,319.52 an ounce by 8:10 a.m. EST. It closed 1.1 percent lower on Tuesday after hitting the lowest since Feb. 9 at $1,313.26. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were up 0.15 percent at $1,320.90.