US pre-market stock futures struggled for traction into Thursday’s session following the Federal Reserve’s decision to remove any prospect of a rate hike in 2019, while warning of slowing economic growth in the world’s largest economy.
During the FOMC press conference, Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, said he would remain “patient” monitoring incoming data and developments in the global economy and would be unlikely to move interest rates until early next year – the central bank kept its key policy target unchanged at 2.25% to 2.5%.
While an easier monetary policy for the US, at first glance, may seem supportive for risk assets, the extent of the central bank’s dovish tilt has left some investors concerned regarding the issued US growth outlook – particularly in regards to the effect of US-China trade talks and a still-unresolved Brexit.
Meanwhile, with the US and China preparing for a fresh round of face-to-face negotiations, President Trump said, on Wednesday; the US is expected to keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place for a “substantial period of time” even after a deal.
These moves in pre-market come after yesterday’s session, where the dovish take on rates by the Federal Reserve helped US stocks trim their morning losses.
The S&P 500, which had been down by -0.7% at session lows, briefly turned higher on the day after Fed officials penciled in zero rate rises for 2019, compared with a prior outlook for two.
Despite this, the benchmark index gave up those gains in the final minutes of trading to close -0.30% lower – weighed down by Financials (-2.06%), by far the worst performer in the S&P.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell -0.61%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite managed a gain of +0.40% into the session’s close.
In today’s economic calendar, Thursday includes; Weekly Jobless Claims and Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index data for March at 8:30am EST.
In corporate news; Nike (NKE), Zuora (ZUO), Lands’ End (LE), Darden Restaurants (DRI) and Conagra Brands (CAG) are all expected to issue their latest quaternary financials today.
TODAY’S TOP HEADLINES:
Politics: Trump finally got his wish from the Fed, but not for the reasons he wanted. (CNBC)
The move announced Wednesday should please President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly urged the central bank to hit the brakes on rate hikes, but it will not please him that the central bank lowered its economic outlook for the year.
Brexit: EU leaders to decide whether to give UK more time for Brexit. (CNBC)
European leaders are meeting on Thursday to decide whether to grant the US an extension to its Brexit due on March 29. US Prime Minister Theresa May is in Brussels Thursday to seek support from the bloc’s 27 leaders for an extension to Brexit date that would mean a departure takes place on June 30th.
Today’s Economical Announcements
08:30AM – ★☆☆ – Weekly Jobless Claims (Previous: 229,000)
08:30AM – ★★★ – Philly Fed Manuf. Index (Mar) (Previous: -4.1)
STOCKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Pre-Market Movers & News Related Stocks
Biogen (BIIB): [NEWS] The drug maker discontinued late-stage trials of an Alzheimer’s treatment.
Guess (GES): [EARNINGS] Missed estimates by 5 cents a share with adjusted quarterly profit of 70 cents per share, though the apparel maker’s revenue beat forecasts. Guess gave a weaker-than-expected forecast for the current quarter and full year.
Conagra (CAG): [EARNINGS] Beat estimates by 2 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of 51 cents per share. Revenue below forecasts, however, and the company lowered its full-year organic sale outlook.
Darden Restaurants (DRI): [EARNINGS] Reported quarterly profit of $1.80 per share, 5 cents a share above estimates. Revenue and same-restaurant sales also beat forecasts, and Darden also increased its full-year outlook.
Williams-Sonoma (WSM): [EARNINGS] Earned an adjusted $2.10 per share for its latest quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.96 a share. Revenue beat forecasts, although its same-store sales increase of 2.4 percent was slightly below analysts’ projections.
Micron Technology (MU): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.71 per share, 4 cents a share above estimates. Revenue topped forecasts. Micron’s revenue forecast for the current quarter was below estimates, however, and the company is also trimming its capital expenditures as well as idling some production lines amid what it calls a challenging market environment.
Lands’ End (LE): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of 50 cents per share, above the 41 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue beat forecasts.
Herman Miller (MLHR): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of 64 cents per share, beating the consensus estimate of 60 cents a share. Revenue came in below forecasts. The company also gave a better-than-expected current-quarter and full-year earnings forecast.
Apple (AAPL): [NEWS] The Wall Street Journal will be part of Apple’s new subscription news service, but The New York Times and Washington Post will not. That’s according to the Times, which said Apple has been asking publishers for about half the subscription revenue that the service generates.
Boeing (BA): [NEWS] Boeing remains under pressure in the aftermath of the most recent 737 MAX crash, with NBC News confirming that the FBI has joined the investigation into the certification process for the jet.
Walmart (WMT): [NEWS] Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King is leaving the retail giant, after leading a revamp of Walmart’s e-commerce platform. King had been with Walmart since 2011.
Clorox (CLX): [NEWS] Clorox is suing rival household products maker Reckitt Benckiser, saying the British company is falsely claiming in ads that its Lysol products are superior to those made by Clorox.
Tootsie Roll Industries (TR): [NEWS] The candy maker was ordered by a judge to temporarily stop using its packaging for its new Charms Mini Pops. Spangler Candy Co. had sued Tootsie Roll, saying that the Mini Pops packaging too closely resembles the packaging for its Dum Dums lollipops.
GAINERS: NTNX, NFLX, IRDM, MDB
LOSERS: TDC, VIAB, WAl, UNM, SNV, HBAN, HOPE, DSW, RCII, MNST
Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI) (Price: 17) (Shares: 36.7M)