U.S. stock index futures slipped on Wednesday as investors cautiously waited for the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates later in the day and a reading on private job additions last month.
The Fed is widely seen as raising its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point in its first policy meeting of the year, after the rapid increases in 2022 to tame decades-high inflation.
Investors will also likely parse Chair Jerome Powell news conference for clues on the trajectory of future rate hikes.
Money markets are betting on one more 25 basis point (bps) hike in March, and a terminal rate of 4.9% in June.
“A rise by 25 bps is likely to be interpreted as a more cautious move… officials will hope that the central bank’s aggressive tightening slows economic activity and wage growth without causing a recessionary spike in the unemployment rate,” said Richard Flynn, UK managing director at Charles Schwab.
Recent readings have indicated that inflation is easing, with the Fed also looking at data which will determine the resilience of the labor market and the pace of wage growth.
The ADP National Employment report, due at 0815 a.m. ET, is expected to show that private payrolls increased in January by 178,000, which is less than the 235,000 rise in the previous month, as per a Reuters poll.
The survey will be seen as a precursor to the Labor Department’s more comprehensive reading on nonfarm payrolls for January on Friday.
On Tuesday, Wall Street indexes reversed declines and rallied when the Fed’s preferred wages gauge, the U.S. Employment Cost index, showed its smallest increase in a year during the fourth quarter.
Snap Inc (SNAP.N) tumbled 15% after the social media company said it expects current-quarter revenue to decline by as much as 10%. Other social media and internet firms like Meta Platforms Inc (META.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Pinterest (PINS.N) were flat to 0.7% lower.
Facebook parent Meta is expected to report quarterly results after the bell.
Bucking the recent nervousness among chipmakers, Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O) added 3.4% after projecting that it expects its business to improve in the second half of the year, boosting hopes that it is gaining on rival Intel Corp (INTC.O). Intel shares dipped 0.1%.
At 7:25 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 122 points, or 0.36%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 7.25 points, or 0.18%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.5 points, or 0.06%.
As of Tuesday, quarterly earnings of S&P 500 firms are expected to decline 2.4%, improving from 3% decline in the previous session as per Refinitiv.