U.S. stock market index futures linked to the Nasdaq-100 were higher Thursday, boosted by sharp gains from Facebook-parent Meta Platforms. Nasdaq-100 futures gained 1.3%. S&P 500 futures jumped 0.4%. Futures connected to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 134 points, or 0.4%. Meta surged more than 19% in premarket trading after reporting a fourth-quarter beat on revenue and announcing a $40 billion stock buyback. That helped investors look past losses in the business unit overseeing the metaverse. The moves follow a positive day for the three major indexes. The S&P 500 gained 1.05% on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq Composite closed 2% higher. Meanwhile, the Dow eked out a narrow 0.02% gain after dropping more than 500 points earlier in the day. Wednesday’s gains came after the Federal Reserve announced a 0.25 percentage point interest rate hike. That marked a pull back from the 0.5 percentage point increase at December’s meeting, bolstering investor optimism that inflation is cooling enough for the central bank to take notice. But the central bank gave no indication of an upcoming pause in rate hikes. “Traders think the Fed is behind the curve and that inflation threat is receding rapidly,” said Jamie Dutta, market analyst at Vantage. “The Fed is open to changing its mind and may have to if the economy loses momentum.” Investors will watch Thursday for earnings reports from household names including Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Ford Motor and Starbucks. They will also look for data on jobless claims, productivity, labor costs and factory orders. Stocks in the Asia-Pacific traded mostly higher on Thursday as investors digested the U.S. Federal Reserve’s smaller rate hike of 25 basis points and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged inflation is falling. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.52% in its final hour of trade with the Hang Seng tech index trading flat. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.22% to 3,285.67 and the Shenzhen Component rose 0.02% to 12,131.20. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7% to end its session at 2,468.88 and the Kosdaq gained 1.82% to 764.62, as the nation’s consumer price index rose 5.2% in the first month of 2023 on an annualized basis, ticking upward for the first time in three months, government data showed. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 traded 0.2% higher to 27,402.05 while the Topix lost 0.36% to end its session at 1,965.17. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.13% to close at 7,511.6. Oil prices were steady on Thursday after tumbling in the previous session as a weaker dollar boosted sentiment, though looming sanctions on Russian oil products added uncertainty over supply. Brent crude futures 1 cent to $82.85 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures advanced 16 cents to $76.57. Both benchmarks plunged more than 3% overnight after U.S. government data showed a large build in oil stocks. Gold prices extended gains on Thursday to touch their highest in more than nine months, after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by an expected 25 basis points and Chair Jerome Powell’s comments were read as dovish by the market. Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,953.28 per ounce after hitting its highest since April 2022 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures rose 1.3% to $1,968.30.
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