Stock futures fall as traders await the Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike decision


Traders on the floor of the NYSE

Source: NYSE

Stock futures slipped Wednesday as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday meeting.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 140 points or 0.4%. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq Composite futures were down 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.

The Fed at 2 p.m. ET will announce how much it is increasing interest rates in its latest effort to tame high inflation. Markets are expecting a 25 basis point, or 0.25 percentage point, bump from the central bank. On Tuesday, the employment cost index, a measure of wage increases, showed compensation rose 1% in the fourth quarter, less than the 1.1% estimate by Dow Jones.

Still, traders may be getting ahead of themselves in expecting a more dovish tone from the Fed, or looking for signs that a pause in hikes or even a pivot is coming soon.

“Aggressive tightening in 2022 has led to signs of decelerating inflation but from levels that remain unacceptably high,” Ron Temple, chief market strategist at Lazard said in a Tuesday note. “With a 25bps hike already discounted by markets, Powell’s task is to unambiguously signal the Fed’s commitment to tame inflation.”

The Fed’s announcement will be followed by comments from Chair Jerome Powell.

Wall Street is coming off a strong session to end January. The Dow ended Tuesday nearly 369 points higher, rising by 1.09%. The S&P 500 gained 1.46% to cap its best January performance since 2019. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 1.67%, notching its best January performance in 22 years.

Earnings season continues as well. Peloton and Meta Platforms are scheduled to report quarterly results on Wednesday.

Snap shares dropped more than 15% after the social media company posted a disappointing quarterly revenue. The company’s average revenue per user, a key metric for Snap, also came in below expectations. Meanwhile, AMD reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue but warned of a 10% top-line decline in the first quarter.