Wall Street on course for February loss, first in 10 months

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(Reuters) – Wall Street looked set to open flat on Wednesday, on track for loss on the month in February, as concerns over rising interest rates and their downward impact on stock markets dominated chatter among traders. A monthly loss for the S&P 500 .SPX and the Dow Industrials .DJI would be their first fall since March of last year. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, in his debut testimony to Congress on Wednesday, struck a mildly hawkish tone, noting inflation had risen since December and vowing to prevent the economy from overheating. That prompted traders to raise the odds on the Fed squeezing in another rate hike beyond the three already expected this year. Futures tied to target policy rates now price in a one-in-three chance of rates rising by a full percentage point in 2018. World stocks were also set to snap a record 15-month winning streak due to data signaling a slowdown in China’s manufacturing and Japan’s industrial output. A Reuters analysis showed global investors cut their equity exposure to a three-month low in February, though most still expect stocks to test new highs despite rising bond yields. At 6:48 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 8 points, S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 slipped 0.5 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 was 1 point higher. Among early decliners was No. 2 home improvement chain Lowe’s (LOW.N), whose shares slumped 7 percent after the company’s quarterly profit missed estimates as margins fell. Celgene (CELG.O) fell about 7 percent after U.S. health regulators rejected the company’s application seeking approval of a key multiple sclerosis drug. The U.S. Commerce Department is set to release its second revised estimate of the fourth-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. ET. The economy is likely to have expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate, compared with a previous estimate of 2.6 percent. Reading on the Fed’s favored gauge of inflation, personal consumption expenditure, is due on Thursday. Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’SilvaOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Source: Reuters