US Futures Take a Breather as Oil Rally Pauses

Thursday saw Wall Street stocks struggling to gain ground, as they grappled with the prevailing market pessimism despite a pause in the oil rally. Investors were eagerly awaiting an update on the state of the US economic growth.

Futures linked to the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) faced challenges in making significant gains, hovering near the flatline. Meanwhile, futures tied to the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) remained relatively unchanged.

The Federal Reserve’s announcement that interest rates would remain elevated for an extended period had unsettled the markets. Nevertheless, stocks appeared to be stabilizing after enduring several days of sharp declines. In the realm of bonds, the rapid rise of the 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) was showing signs of slowing down, although it still lingered around 4.63%, a level not seen in over 15 years.

Both the stock and bond markets felt pressure due to the surge in oil prices, which had reached fresh 2023 highs on Wednesday and had surged by over 35% since the end of June. This surge was expected to drive up fuel costs, presenting a challenge to the Fed’s attempts to curb inflation, and subsequently affecting the likelihood of a rate reduction.

On Thursday, oil prices retraced their steps, with West Texas Intermediate futures (CL=F) sliding to $93.50 per barrel after earlier reaching $95. Brent crude futures (BZ=F) were down by 0.5% at $96.09, having come close to $97.

The central question remained whether the Fed could successfully orchestrate a “soft landing” for the economy, a subject of significant debate. Investors kept a close watch on updates regarding second-quarter GDP and jobless claims, scheduled for release later on Thursday. Additionally, the week’s data highlight was the forthcoming report on PCE inflation, the preferred gauge of the Fed, set to be released on Friday. However, some believed that it wouldn’t be persistent price increases but rather insatiable consumer spending and an overheated economy that would prompt central bankers to take action.

In terms of individual stocks, Micron (MU) witnessed a nearly 5% decline during premarket trading following the chipmaker’s announcement of a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss.

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