US stock futures steady as markets digest Powell testimony, rate cut outlook

Investing.com-- U.S. stock futures moved in a tight range in evening deals on Tuesday, steadying as optimism over interest rate cuts saw Wall Street notch record highs, albeit at a slower pace.

Testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell saw markets largely stick to their expectations for a September interest rate cut, even as Powell did not appear to have directly telegraphed a cut. The Fed Chair is set to testify further on Wednesday.

S&P 500 Futures rose slightly to 5,634.50 points, while Nasdaq 100 Futures rose 0.1% to 20,701.25 points by 19:12 ET (23:12 GMT). Dow Jones Futures were flat at 39,592.0 points. 

Powell says economy cooling, but risks still persist 

Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell acknowledged that the U.S. economy had cooled in recent months, and was also making progress towards the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

Powell noted that too much cooling in the labor market presented another risk to the economy, and that keeping interest rates too high for too long could present more headwinds to the economy. 

Still, the Fed Chair did not provide any direct cues on the timing of any potential interest rate cuts, and reiterated that any future decisions will remain contingent on upcoming economic data. He also reiterated the bank’s commitment to meeting its 2% inflation target. 

Powell is set to testify further before the House on Wednesday.

The Fed Chair’s comments saw traders largely maintain bets on a September rate cut, with CME Fedwatch showing an over 72% chance for a 25 basis point cut during the month. 

Powell’s comments also put upcoming consumer price index inflation data, due Thursday, squarely in focus. 

Wall Street creeps up to record highs 

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both hit record highs on Tuesday, although their pace of gains appeared to be slowing substantially. Gains were also largely biased towards heavyweight technology stocks, amid persistent hype over artificial intelligence. 

 The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to finish at 5,576.98 points on Tuesday. The NASDAQ Composite rose 0.2% to 18,430.56 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1% to 39,291.97 points. 

Beyond Thursday’s CPI reading, focus this week is also squarely on the beginning of the second quarter earnings season, with a slew of major Wall Street banks set to report on Friday. 

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