U.S. stock futures drift higher after bounce, with all eyes on Fed’s Powell

U.S. stock-index futures edged into positive territory Tuesday, as investors assessed a sharp rebound in the previous session and awaited congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

What are major benchmarks doing?
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
    YM00,
    0.11%

    rose 38 points, or 0.1%, to 33,799.

  • S&P 500 futures
    ES00,
    0.14%

    edged up 5.95 points, or 0.1%, to 4,219.75.

  • Nasdaq-100 futures
    NQ00,
    0.17%

    were up 23.25 points, or 0.2%, at 14,153.25.

On Monday, stocks bounced back sharply from the previous week’s heavy losses, with the Dow
DJIA,
1.76%

advancing 586.89 points, or 1.8%, while the S&P 500
SPX,
1.40%

rose 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
0.79%

gained 1.8%.

What’s driving the market?

Powell will testify before the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic at 2 p.m. Eastern, for his first public appearance since last Wednesday when the Fed chief acknowledged that policy makers had started to discuss the eventual reduction of the Fed’s monthly bond purchases. The Fed last week surprised markets at its policy meeting by revealing policy makers now expect two interest rate hikes by the end of 2023, earlier than previously anticipated.

“We at the Fed will do everything we can to support the economy for as long as it takes to complete the recovery,” Powell said, in prepared testimony released by the subcommittee late Monday.

“Powell reiterated his view that the recent jump in inflation would prove transitory. While such comments seem to have soothed concerns over the Fed’s hawkish tilt, the question is for how long?” said Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM, in a note.

“Given how markets remain highly sensitive to comments from Fed officials and inflation expectations, the next few days promise to be quite eventful for markets with numerous Fed speakers on the roster,” he said.

Read: Is the reflation trade over? What stock-market investors need to watch

Investors will hear from other Fed officials before the spotlight falls on Powell. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is scheduled to deliver a speech to a Norway Central Bank conference at 10:30 a.m. ET, while San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly is slated to talk about climate risk and the Fed in a speech before the Peterson Institute for International Economics at 11 a.m. ET.

Another busy week of initial public offerings is under way, with 17 deals on tap, including at least two expected to raise more than $1 billion.

In U.S. economic data, May existing home sales is due at 10 a.m. Economists look for the annual pace of sales to slow to 5.68 million from 5.85 million in April.

Which companies are in focus?
  • GameStop Corp.
    GME,
    -6.29%

    said Tuesday it has completed an at-the-market equity offering after issuing 5 million shares to raise about $1.126 billion. The videogame retailer and leading meme stock said it would use the proceeds for the catchall general corporate purposes and for growth initiatives. Shares rose 8.9% in premarket trade.

  • The European Commission said it opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Alphabet Inc.’s 
    GOOG,
    0.71%

    GOOGL,
    1.42%

    Google has violated European Union competition rules by favoring its own online display advertising technology services. Shares were flat.

  • Delta Air Lines Inc.
    DAL,
    1.80%

    plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer, according to multiple news reports. Citing an internal memo, Reuters and Bloomberg News separately reported that the airline looks to increase the number of pilots by about 8%, anticipating a recovery in air travel over the next year as international travel restrictions ease. Shares were up 0.2%.

  • Korn Ferry
    KFY,
    3.56%

    shares rose more than 4% after the consulting firm swung to a record fiscal fourth-quarter profit that exceeded expectations, and provided an upbeat outlook for the current quarter.

  • Shares of Plug Power Inc.
    PLUG,
    2.33%

    rose 2% after the hydrogen fuel cell company reported a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss but revenue that rose above expectations as product revenue more than doubled.

What are other markets doing?
  • The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 0.8 basis point at 1.493%. Yields and debt prices move inversely to each other.

  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
    DXY,
    0.18%
    ,
    a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, rose 0.2%.

  • Oil futures drifted lower after Brent crude briefly traded above the $75-a-barrel threshold for the first time in two years. The U.S. benchmark
    CL00,
    -0.46%

    was down 0.7% at $72.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • Gold futures
    GC00,
    -0.30%

    edged lower, down 0.1% at $1,761.80 an ounce.

  • In European equity trading, the pan-Continental Stoxx Europe 600
    SXXP,
    0.18%

    rose 0.2% and London’s FTSE 100
    UKX,
    0.39%

    gained 0.4%.

  • In Asia, the Shanghai Composite
    SHCOMP,
    0.80%

    rose 0.8%, the Hang Seng Index
    HSI,
    -0.63%

    fell 0.6% in Hong Kong, and Japan’s Nikkei 225
    NIK,
    3.12%

    jumped more than 3%.