U.S. stock prices rise on Fed outlook and jobs data


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U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday on volumes affected by the holiday and helped by dovish comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Wall Street’s major indexes had a quiet and subdued day on Wednesday due to Thursday’s Independence Day holiday, coming off significant gains on Tuesday after Powell indicated some progress on cooling inflation.

The broader S&P 500 index rose 0.6%. The NASDAQ Composite index moved 0.8% to a record high, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%.

Fed minutes and other jobs data in the spotlight

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell highlighted some successes in reducing inflation in his appearance Tuesday at a European Central Bank forum in Portugal. Despite this, he warned that the Fed still needs much more confidence to begin cutting interest rates.

Investors will now turn their attention to the minutes of the Fed’s June meeting, which will be released later in the session. This meeting resulted in the Fed keeping interest rates unchanged, but also lowered its estimate for rate cuts this year, adding to concerns about inflation.

Other Fed officials are also expected to speak, with New York Fed President John Williams scheduled to speak later on Wednesday.

This week, the market will also be looking at a number of key labor market data, especially Friday’s nonfarm payrolls. Before that, however, ADP payrolls data will be released on Wednesday, while JOLTS job openings data released on Tuesday came in better than expected. The strength of the labor market is another key consideration for the Fed in cutting interest rates. 

Paramount Global rallies

Paramount Global (PARA) was up 9% just before the market opened after Reuters reported that the film studio’s majority shareholder, National Amusements, had reached a preliminary agreement to merge with Skydance Media.

First Foundation (NYSE:FFWM) was falling more than 27% in the wake of the company receiving a $228 million equity investment from affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, Canyon Partners, Strategic Value Bank Partners, North Reef Capital and others, which will buy shares of the company at deep discounts. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the bank was heavily exposed to commercial real estate.

Apple (AAPL) shares were down 0.3% just before the market open, as the iPhone maker will sit as an observer on the board of ChatGPT maker and artificial intelligence company OpenAI, the media indicated.

Crude oil rises after U.S. stockpiles drawdown

Oil rose on Wednesday, thanks to industry data that revealed a larger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.

On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute released data showing U.S. crude inventories fell by just over 9 million barrels in the week ending June 28, a figure well above expectations.

The Energy Information Administration will release official weekly data later in the session. Gasoline demand in the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, is expected to increase with the Independence Day holiday this week.

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