Wednesday June 16th


Stock futures are flat as investors await Federal Reserve update

U.S. stock index futures were mostly flat on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s update on monetary policy. Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were just 45 points lower. S&P 500 futures were largely flat, while Nasdaq 100 futures traded lower by 0.1%. In early premarket trading, large tech shares like Tesla and Nvidia were slightly lower, while shares of economic reopening plays Royal Caribbean and Boeing were slightly higher. Stocks pulled back from record levels during Tuesday’s trading session, with the S&P 500 closing 0.2% lower after hitting an all-time intraday high earlier in the day. The Dow slid nearly 100 points and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.7% amid weakness in shares of Big Tech. The Federal Reserve kicked off its two-day meeting on Tuesday. The central bank is not expected to make any policy moves, but it could signal that it’s beginning to think about easing its bond-buying policy. The Fed will also release new forecasts on Wednesday, which could indicate a possible first rate hike penciled in for 2023. Previously, Fed officials hadn’t come to a consensus for a rate hike through 2023. The Fed’s statement and forecasts will come out at 2 p.m. ET followed by a press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell 30 minutes later. The meeting comes as inflation heats up, with producer prices rising at their fastest annual rate in nearly 11 years during May, a report on Tuesday showed. This has prompted some, including Paul Tudor Jones, to call for the central bank to re-think its easy monetary policy. “I still think equities are going higher,” BlackRock global bond chief Rick Rieder said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “If we don’t hear anything different, then I worry a little bit about risk the system creates — you can create asset bubbles you can create leverage. We’ve seen markets that are a little bit concerning with literally zero spread to them for risk assets.” The central bank has been buying $120 billion worth of bonds each month as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. “The drama this week will be whether the Fed sits tight or admits that inflation is rising and that the Fed needs to tighten,” said Brad McMillan, CIO at Commonwealth Financial Network. “Since the Fed has a dual mandate—unemployment and inflation—that suggests it should indeed keep its focus on unemployment, rather than inflation.” Minutes from the central bank’s last meeting showed that some Fed officials said it could be appropriate to start discussing adjustments to the bond-buying program should the economy continue to recover. Economists predict that while some of these discussions could  begin, concrete details will not be revealed until later this year. On Wednesday, China said it will release industrial metals including copper, aluminum and zinc from its national reserves to curb commodity prices. Copper price has fallen more than 10% from its record high, dipping into correction territory on Tuesday. Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday trade as investors looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision. Mainland Chinese stocks led losses among the region’s major markets, with the Shenzhen component plunging 2.572% to close at 14,295.93. The Shanghai composite also shed 1.07% to finish the trading day at 3,518.33. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.68%, as of its final hour of trading. Elsewhere, shares in Japan were mixed on the day: the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.51% to 29,291.01 while the Topix index was little changed at 1,975.86. Japan’s exports in May rose 49.6% from a year earlier, data from the country’s Ministry of Finance showed Wednesday. That was lower than a 51.3% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.62% higher to close at 3,278.68. Oil gained for a fifth day on Wednesday, climbing towards $75 a barrel to its highest since April 2019, supported by a recovery in demand from the pandemic and a drop in U.S. crude inventories. The American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude inventories fell 8.5 million barrels, two market sources said, more than analysts forecast. Official Energy Information Administration figures are out at 1430 GMT. Brent crude was up 24 cents, or 0.32%, at $74.23 a barrel by around 7:15 a.m. ET, and earlier reached $74.73, the highest since April 2019. U.S. crude gained 12 cents, or 0.17%, to $72.25 and hit $72.83, the highest since October 2018. Gold prices steadied in a narrow range on Wednesday as investors awaited for any signs of early tapering from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting. Spot gold was steady at $1,859.00 per ounce by 0902 GMT. It fell to its lowest since May 17 at $1,843.99 on Monday. U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,860.90.