Wall Street set to open higher ahead of Powell testimony

U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday as investors picked up beaten-down stocks ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony that may offer fresh insight on policy tightening and the central bank’s plans to tackle inflation.

The rise in futures set the S&P 500 index on course to break a five-day slump, while the Nasdaq was set to extend thin gains from Monday as big tech stocks edged high after being battered by rising bond yields.

“There’s always good value when things pull back enough,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist. “When the buyers stepped in, it told us they are still bullish on tech.”

Megacap growth companies including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Meta Platforms Inc rose up to 1% in premarket trading.

Tesla advanced 0.5% after sales of its China-made vehicles in December shot up to their highest monthly rate since the company started manufacturing in Shanghai in 2019.

Marko Kolanovic, chief global markets strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co, called the recent pull-back in riskier assets “arguably overdone” and said it presented investors with a buying opportunity.

Powell is set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m ET for consideration for a second four-year term as head of the Fed, while Lael Brainard is set to appear before the same panel on Thursday for promotion to a four-year term as Fed vice chair.

At 8:38 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 11 points, or 0.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.12%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 29.25 points, or 0.19%.

Equity markets have been battered since the start of this year after the minutes from the Fed’s December meeting pointed to a sooner-than-expected rise in interest rates due to rising inflationary pressures.

Investors will eye key consumer inflation data on Wednesday, with the headline CPI expected to come in at a red-hot 7% on a year-on-year basis, adding to fears that it could sway the trajectory of the Fed’s interest rate hikes.

The center-piece event of the week is the start of the fourth-quarter earnings season on Friday, with big banks expected to show an uptick in quarterly core revenue thanks to new lending and firming Treasury yields.

“We are aware of the concerns that are out there, on Omicron, inflation and policy tightening, but corporate America’s earnings once again should help justify why stocks are near all time highs,” added Detrick.

Big banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Corp, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc dipped.

Intel gained 0.6% after the chipmaker named Micron Technologies finance head David Zinsner as CFO and executive vice president from Jan. 17, while Micron declined 0.7%.

International Business Machines dropped 3.3% after UBS downgraded the stock to “sell” and slashed its price target.

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