U.S. stock market index futures traded higher Wednesday and rates slid as investors await key economic data reports that will show how the U.S. economy is faring amid the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes to tame inflation. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100 points, or 0.30%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures climbed 0.42% and 0.57%, respectively. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond slipped more than 11 basis points as investors await minutes from the central bank’s latest meeting. Yields and prices move in opposite directions and one basis point is equivalent to 0.01%. Sentiment was boosted in part by encouraging inflation data from Europe, including a greater-than-expected decline in the French consumer price index and a drop in German import prices. U.S. stocks started 2023 on a downbeat note Tuesday as rising rate concerns, high inflation and recessionary fears crushed hopes that Wall Street could kick off the new year on a positive note. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively, while the Dow closed just below breakeven. The major indexes were also pressured by steep declines in Apple and Tesla shares. “U.S. stocks were unable to hold onto earlier gains as restrictive policy and recession fears remained front and center for investors,” wrote Oanda’s senior market analyst Ed Moya in a note to clients Tuesday. “Discount buying triggered another bear market rebound that didn’t last long at all.” Investors will gain more insight into what Fed members are thinking on Wednesday afternoon as minutes from the central bank’s latest policy meeting are released. Earlier in the day, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, and ISM manufacturing data are due out. Friday’s December jobs report also will be closely watched as it is the last read on the labor market before the Fed meeting in February. “It is too early to start betting on a Fed pivot this year and that should make this difficult environment for stocks,” Moya said. Hong Kong shares led gains in the Asia-Pacific as investors looked ahead to the Fed’s meeting minutes, watching for signs of more interest rate hikes. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 3.08%, in its final hour of trade, leading gains in the region, while the Hang Seng Tech index gained more than 3.08%. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite inched up 0.22% to 3,123.52 while the Shenzhen Component fell 0.2% to 11,095.37. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed up 1.63% at 7,059.2. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.79% to end off at 2,255.98, while the Kosdaq ended down 1.29% at 683.67. The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.44% to 25,716.86 and the Topix declined 1.22% to 1,868.15 as the au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing manager’s index for December fell further into contraction territory. Oil fell sharply on Wednesday after slumping in the previous session, weighed down by concerns about weak demand due to the state of the global economy and China’s rising COVID cases. Brent futures last fell $2.69 to $79.41 a barrel, a 3.28% loss. U.S. crude dropped $2.34, or 3.04%, to $74.59 per barrel. Both benchmarks plunged more than 4% on Tuesday, with Brent suffering its biggest one-day loss in more than three months. Gold prices extended their new year rally to jump nearly 1% and hit their highest since mid-June on Wednesday, helped by a weaker dollar and growing expectations of less aggressive rate hikes going forward. Spot gold was last up 0.8% to $1,854.19 per ounce, hitting its highest since June 13. U.S. gold futures also gained 0.75% to $1,860.00. The dollar index, meanwhile, slipped 0.33%, making gold less expensive for overseas investors.
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