US futures mixed after Fed hike with more earnings on tap

Futures on Wall Street were mixed Thursday, one day after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is moving toward lower inflation but that more interest rate increases are planned.

Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.4% while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4%, one day after markets climbed to their highest levels since summer.

The rally Wednesday came after the Fed increased its key lending rate by 0.25 percentage points, smaller than previous hikes and in line with analysts’ projections. Chair Jerome Powell said the “disinflationary process has started” but “ongoing increases” in rates will be needed.

The latest increase pushed the Fed’s overnight lending rate to a 16-year high of 4.5% to 4.75%, up from close to zero early last year.

Traders hope central banks that raised rates repeatedly over the past year will scale back plans for more hikes as inflation eases. Some expect a U.S. cut before 2024, though Powell said he anticipates none this year.

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Markets put a “dovish interpretation” on Powell’s comments despite his warning that it was too early to declare victory, said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The gap between market pricing and Fed plans “appears to have widened,” Lavanya wrote. “This leaves room for a rude shock down the road.”

“We can now say, I think for the first time, that the disinflationary process has started,” Powell said. He said his “base case” is that the Fed’s inflation target of 2% can be achieved “without a really significant downturn or really big increase in unemployment.”

That appeared to encourage investors who worry central banks might be willing to push the global economy into recession to cool inflation that is near multi-decade highs.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 gained 1% after Powell’s news conference. The Dow recovered from a loss to gain less than 0.1%. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2%.

Thursday brings another slew of corporate earnings reports, with tech heavyweights Alphabet, Amazon and Apple posting results after the bell. Ford and Starbucks also report.

Also coming Thursday is the weekly unemployment report, which follows more strong jobs data. The government said Wednesday that U.S. job openings rose to 11 million in December, which is about two jobs for every unemployed American. On Friday, the government issues its jobs report for January.

Markets in Europe moved higher ahead of the European Central Bank’s expected half-point interest rate hike early Thursday. At midday, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.6%, the DAX in Frankfurt gained 1.2% and the CAC 40 in Paris inched up 0.2%.

The Bank of England raised interest rates by half a percentage point Thursday as it sought to tame double-digit inflation that is fueling a cost-of-living crisis, public-sector strikes and fears of recession.

In Asia Thursday, the Shanghai Composite Index gained less than 0.1% to 3,285.67 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.2% to 27,402.05. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.5% to 21,958.36.

The Kospi in Seoul was up 0.8% at 2,466.03 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.1% to 7,511.60.

India’s Sensex shed less than 0.1% to 59,664.17. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur declined.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude declined 32 cents to $76.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.46 on Wednesday to $76.41. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, dipped 52 cents to $82.32 per barrel in London. It lost $2.62 the previous session to $82.84 a barrel.

The dollar fell to 128.37 yen, while the euro rose to $1.0994 from $1.0979.

McDonald reported from Beijing; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.

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