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U.S. Futures Edge Lower; Ukraine Uncertainty Weighs Ahead of Fed Minutes


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By Peter Nurse — U.S. stocks are seen opening lower Wednesday, handing back some of the previous session’s hefty gains as doubts emerge about the veracity of Russia’s claims that it was withdrawing some troops from the Ukraine border.

At 7 AM ET (1200 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was down 40 points, or 0.1%, S&P 500 Futures traded 5 points, or 0.1%, lower and Nasdaq 100 Futures dropped 10 points, or 0.1%.

The major indices posted strong gains on Tuesday as geopolitical tensions eased after the Russian defense ministry published footage to show it was returning some troops to base after exercises.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped over 400 points, or 1.2%, while the broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.6% and the Nasdaq Composite outperformed, soaring 2.5%.

However, this optimistic tone took a blow Wednesday after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called into question the Russian troop movement claims.

“It remains to be seen whether there is a Russian withdrawal … What we see is that they have increased the number of troops, and more troops are on the way,” he said at the start of a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

Away from Eastern Europe, investors are cautiously awaiting the release of the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting, at 2 PM ET (1900 GMT), for clues as to the policymaker’s thoughts about raising interest rates aggressively in March.

Producer price data showed a greater than expected increase in January on Tuesday, another sign of lingering inflationary pressures, and comes after consumer prices rose to the highest annual level in 40 years last week.

Retail sales are also due at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT), and are seen rising by 2% month-on-month in January after their higher-than-expected fall of 1.9% in December.

Turning to the corporate sector, earnings are due from the likes of tech conglomerate Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), hotel chain Hyatt (NYSE:H), theater chains AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and chip maker Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA).

Additionally, Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) stock will be in the spotlight after the home rental company’s fourth-quarter results reinforced a trend toward longer stays and higher average spending by guests.

ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) will also be in focus with investors fretting that the media giant’s bet on the streaming business will need a hefty investment to compete with big players Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Disney+ (NYSE:DIS).

Oil prices rose Wednesday, regaining some ground after the previous session’s sharp losses on the easing of tensions on the Ukraine border. 

Elsewhere, crude oil supply data from the American Petroleum Institute, released on Tuesday, showed a draw of just over 1 million barrels for last week. Investors now await crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, due later in the day.

By 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.4% higher at $93.35 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.4% to $94.62. Both benchmarks fell over 3% on Tuesday, the biggest one-day loss this year.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,857.40/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.1384.


U.S. Futures Edge Lower; Ukraine Uncertainty Weighs Ahead of Fed Minutes

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