Wall St eyes higher open on Big Tech boost

Wall Street’s main indexes were set for a higher open on Friday, as investors continued to favor beaten-down growth stocks while grappling with concerns about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the possibility of bigger interest rate hikes.

Meta Platforms rose 0.9% in premarket trading to lead gains among tech titans.

Apple Inc and Tesla Inc were set to climb for the ninth consecutive session. The S&P 500 technology sector has risen 2.4% so far this week but is still down 8.7% year-to-date.

U.S. stocks have rallied in six of the last eight sessions as gains in megacap stocks and strong economic data overshadowed worries about escalating geopolitical tensions, higher oil prices and calls for aggressive action by the Federal Reserve to combat surging inflation.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq indexes are on track for their second straight weekly gains.

“The U.S. economy is so strong at this point, the labor market is so tight that the equity market is telling you that the U.S. economy can handle this particular move in oil for now,” said Tom Mantione, managing director.

“The speed at which the Fed moves will definitely have an impact on the U.S. equity markets. While we’ve seized on 3% a day move, so long as the market isn’t sure, whether it’s 25 or 50 basis point (increase) you are going to see volatility.”

The Fed is seen raising rates to 2.4% by February 2023, from 0.25-0.50% now, with the market pricing in a 76.8% probability that the Fed will hike by 50 basis points in May.

Big Banks rose, with Morgan Stanley up 0.7%. The banks index has fallen 2.9% so far in March even as the U.S. central bank last week raised interest rates for the first time since 2018.

At 8:23 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 101 points, or 0.29%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 17 points, or 0.38%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 69.75 points, or 0.47%.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, inched up after closing at its lowest level since Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is due to travel to Poland on Friday for a first-hand look at the refugee crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after NATO promised Kyiv new military support while London and Washington stepped up sanctions on Moscow.

A reading on U.S. consumer sentiment data for March is due at 10 a.m. ET.

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