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Anxiety Ahead Of Fed Minutes, Nvidia Earnings May Weigh On Wall Street

iHub News
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February 21 2024 4:02AM

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, with stocks likely to add to the losses posted in the two previous session.

The downward momentum on Wall Street reflects lingering concerns about the outlook for interest rates ahead of the release of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting later in the day.

“The Fed kept rates unchanged for the fourth time in a row at the January meeting and indicated it was not ready to start cutting,” said Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell.

She added, “The meeting minutes should lift the lid on this thinking and more likely spell out that inflation needs to come down further before the central bank reaches for the scissors.”

Traders are also on edge ahead of the release of fourth quarter results from Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) after the close of today’s trading.

Shares of Nvidia have skyrocketed this year amid optimism about demand for its AI chips, but traders are wary of whether its results will support further upside.

“While equities have run out of steam in recent days, Nvidia’s results could be make or break time for markets,” said Hewson. “Elevated expectations mean the chip specialist has no room for error. It needs to smash it out of the park and show that the AI boom still has momentum.”

Ahead of the release of its quarterly results, Nvidia is slumping by 2.1 percent in pre-market trading after tumbling by 4.4 percent on Tuesday.

Stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday, extending the pullback seen during last Friday’s session. The Nasdaq showed a notable move to the downside amid weakness among tech stocks.

The major averages ended the day in negative territory but off their lows of the session. The Nasdaq slumped 144.87 points or 0.9 percent to 15,630.78, the S&P 500 fell 30.06 points or 0.6 percent to 4,975.51 and the Dow dipped 64.19 points or 0.2 percent to 38,563.80.

The weakness on Wall Street partly reflected ongoing anxiety about the outlook for interest rates following last week’s hotter-than-expectation inflation data.

CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is indicating just an 8.5 percent chance the Federal Reserve will lower rates by a quarter point in March, while the chances of a quarter point rate cut in early May have fallen to 33.8 percent.

The Fed may provide additional insight into the outlook for interest rates with the release of the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a strong gain by Walmart (NYSE:WMT) helped limit the downside for the Dow, with the retail giant surging by 3.2 percent after reporting fourth quarter results that exceeded estimates and announcing a deal to acquire TV maker Vizio (NYSE:VZIO) for $2.3 billion.

Steel stocks showed a significant move to the downside, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index tumbling by 1.9 percent after ending last Friday’s trading at its best closing level in well over a month.

Significant weakness was also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent loss posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Tobacco, oil producer and transportation stocks also saw notable weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors.