U.S. stock index futures rose Tuesday as investors braced for the final trading day of February. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 88 points, or 0.3%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.3% and 0.4%, respectively. Zoom Video popped 6.4% on strong earnings, while Target rose 1.3% after the retailer posted its latest quarterly figures. The moves followed a positive session for the major averages as Treasury yields eased. The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 72.17 points or 0.22%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.31% and 0.63%, respectively. Tuesday marks the last day of February. Despite a solid start to the year, the major indexes are on pace for their second negative month in three. As of Monday’s close, the Dow is down 3.5% for the month and the only major index negative for the year. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are positive in 2023, but down 2.3% and 1%, respectively, in February. February “will go down in history as the month where the market pulled back to digest a very strong rally you saw at the end of December into most of January,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investments. “This is a pullback month, it’s a rest month, and that’s good as long as support is defended and support holds, which is last week’s low.” On the economic front, investors also await consumer confidence data, wholesale inventories, Chicago PMI and the S&P Case-Shiller home prices index. Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher on Tuesday as investors digested key economic data across the region. The Hang Seng index fell 0.69% as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee announced to drop its mask mandate starting March 1. The Hang Seng Tech index meanwhile, fell 1.42%. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component climbed 0.7% to close at 11,783.8, leading gains among the benchmark indexes, while the Shanghai Composite was 0.66% higher to end the day at 3,279.6. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.42% to close at 2,412.85, while the Kosdaq rose 1.45% to finish at 791.6 as battery material maker L&F stocks jumped after winning a contract with Tesla. The Nikkei 225 rose fractionally to close at 27,445.56 and the Topix ended Tuesday marginally higher at 1,993.28 as Japan saw its worst decline in factory output in eight months, recording a 4.6% drop in January compared to December. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.47% to close at 7,258.4 as retail sales for January came in higher than expected at 1.9% compared to December, higher than expectations of a 1.5% rise. Oil prices rose Tuesday, supported by hopes a solid economic rebound in China will drive up fuel demand, offsetting worries about further U.S. interest rate hikes dragging on consumption in the world’s biggest economy. Brent crude futures for April, due to expire on Tuesday, were up by 87 cents to $83.32 per barrel. The more active May contract rose 95 cents to $82.99 per barrel. Likewise, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained $1.02 to $76.77 a barrel. Brent and WTI futures were both on track, however, for monthly losses, with WTI likely to hit a four-month streak of declines. Gold prices eased on Tuesday and were headed for their biggest monthly loss since June 2021 as impending interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve sapped the non-yielding asset’s appeal. Spot gold was down 0.5% at $1,808.99 per ounce after hitting a two-month low on Monday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,815.80.
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