U.S. stock futures ease amid tightening concerns at Fed and ECB

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U.S. stock futures were pointing to a weaker start Thursday, on signs of tightening monetary policy at the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.

What’s happening

  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 71 points, or 0.2%, to 34,941
  • Futures on the S&P 500 slipped 12 points, or 0.3%, to 4,501
  • Futures on the Nasdaq 100 slipped 40 points, or 0.3%, to 15,580.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 69 points, or 0.2%, to 35031.07, the S&P 500 dropped 6 points, or 0.1%, to 4514.07, and the NASDAQ Composite ended lower by 88 points, or 0.6%, to 15286.64.

What’s driving markets

The European Central Bank is expected to reduce its monthly bond purchase rate after inflation reached 3% year-over-year in August. The decision is due at 7:45 a.m. Eastern, followed by a press conference with ECB President Christine Lagarde at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

New York Fed President John Williams, who gets a vote at every interest-rate-setting meeting, said late Wednesday the central bank is still on track to reduce its bond purchases this year.

“Recently, stocks were in an upside trajectory on falling expectations that the Fed will taper this year, and this was due to the latest disappointing U.S. jobs data. However, yesterday’s remarks sparked new hopes on that front and, bearing also in mind that investors were already cautious ahead of the ECB, this resulted in further pullback in equities and further recovery in the greenback,” said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group.

What companies are in focus

  • GameStop was under pressure after-hours as the video-games retailer remained coy on its longer-term plans.
  • Lululemon Athletica by contrast rallied as the athleisure-apparel maker blew past Wall Street estimates for the quarter and hiked its full-year forecast

How other assets are trading

  • The Hang Seng dived 2.3% as China again took aim at its video-game makers. The South China Morning Post reported the government will freeze new game approvals.
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