U.S. stock market index futures were little changed Tuesday as investors braced for the latest commentary due Tuesday from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Futures tied to the S&P 500 were up just 0.1%, while futures connected to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 45 points, or 0.1%. Nasdaq-100 futures advanced 0.3%. “Equity markets are treading water on Tuesday, as investors take a pause following quite an eventful week,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda. A speech from Powell before the Economic Club of Washington on Tuesday remains top of mind for investors. Markets interpreted a slew of his disinflation comments during last week’s post-meeting press conference as dovish and stocks rallied. Many view the appearance as an opportunity for Powell to offer more clarity on where rates are headed, or clarify some comments made after last week’s 25 basis point rate hike. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on CNBC early Tuesday that the Fed has not cooled inflation enough to “declare victory.” Earnings season presses on Tuesday with results from companies such as Chipotle and Royal Caribbean. So far this season, a little over half of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings, with about 69% surpassing expectations, according to FactSet data. Stocks in the Asia-Pacific traded mixed on Tuesday, as investors digested the Reserve Bank of Australia’s interest rate hike of 25 basis points, broadly in line with expectations. The S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.46%, erasing earlier gains to 7504.1. The Australian dollar strengthened 0.67% to last trade at 0.6926 against the U.S. dollar. South Korea’s Kosdaq led gains in the region and rose 1.51% to 772.79, while the benchmark Kospi inched up 0.55% to close at 2,451.71. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell fractionally to end its session at 27,685.47 and the Topix rose 0.21% to 1,983.4. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.4% in its final hour of trade, while the Hang Seng Tech Index climbed 1.01% as shares of Baidu jumped on a recent announcement on its artificial chatbot. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component rose 0.12% to 11,926.88 and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.29% to 3,248.09. Oil prices rose for a second straight session on Tuesday, driven by optimism about recovering demand in China, and concerns over supply shortages following the shutdown of a major export terminal after an earthquake in Turkey. Brent crude futures rose $1.53, or 1.9.%, to $82.52 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate futures rose $1.55, or 2.1%, to $75.66 per barrel. Gold prices rose on Tuesday as the dollar pulled back slightly, with traders awaiting U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech later in the day for hints about future rate hikes after last week’s strong economic data. Spot gold was 0.3% higher at $1,872.59 per ounce after hitting its lowest since Jan. 6 in the previous session. U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,886.50.
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