(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures eased on Thursday as worries of higher inflation due to surging commodity prices kept investors on edge, while attention shifted to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s second day of testimony before Congress.
Brent crude roared towards $120 a barrel on supply concerns as the United States hit Russia’s oil refining sector with new export curbs, its latest crackdown on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.[GLOB/MKTS]
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday he believed some foreign leaders were preparing for war against Russia and that Moscow would press on with its military operation in Ukraine until “the end”.
Oilfield services firm Schlumberger rose 1.2% in premarket trading, leading energy stocks higher. The S&P 500 energy sector has climbed 30.7% so far this year, the highest among all the major S&P sectors.
Citigroup upgraded U.S. equities to “overweight” as it sees demand for rate-sensitive growth stocks due to a sharp drop in bond yields following the Ukraine crisis.
Tesla Inc slipped 0.8%, making it the biggest decliner among the mega-cap growth names.
Shares of big banks were mixed, with Citigroup down 0.9% after KBW downgraded the stock to “market perform”.
At 6:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 21 points, or 0.06%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 5 points, or 0.11%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 33.5 points, or 0.24%.
Wall Street’s main indexes rallied sharply on Wednesday after Powell said he will back a quarter point rate increase when the Fed meets March 15-16, assuaging some fears of an aggressive policy tightening by the U.S. central bank.
He will testify before the Senate Banking Committee later in the day. A host of economic data is also due, including the ISM non-manufacturing PMI at 10:00 am ET.
American Eagle Outfitters Inc tumbled 7.2% after the apparel chain forecast a decline in earnings for the first half of 2022 as freight expenses surge and benefits from federal stimulus fade.
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