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Futures ease as investors seek clues on rate outlook


(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Wednesday as jittery investors awaited economic data and comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell after strong readings on the U.S. economy tempered bets on interest rate cuts this year.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the blue-chip Dow closed at two-week lows on Tuesday as Treasury yields rose to multi-month highs in the wake of stronger-than-expected manufacturing activity and factory orders data that raised doubts whether the Fed will cut interest rates thrice in 2024 as widely expected.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield edged up to 4.377% on Wednesday, having touched a 2024 peak of 4.05% in the prior session. [US/]

March private payrolls and services sector data later in the day could offer fresh insights on the U.S. economy.

A slew of U.S. central bank officials including Powell are also slated to speak during the day. Powell’s speech is due at 1210 ET (1610 GMT).

Traders are pricing in a 62% chance that the Fed will cut interest rates by 25 basis points in June, according to CMEGroup’s FedWatch tool, slightly down from about 64% a week ago.

Market participants have also pared back their expectations on the number of rate cuts to about two this year from three a few weeks ago, according to LSEG’s rate probability app.

Cleveland Fed Bank President Loretta Mester and San Francisco Fed Bank President Mary Daly said on Tuesday they think it would be “reasonable” to cut U.S. interest rates three times this year, even as stronger recent economic data has sown investor doubts about that outcome.

Focus will shift to the Labor Department’s jobs report on Friday that is expected to show U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000 jobs in March, following 275,000 job additions in February.

At 5:59 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 40 points, or 0.1%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 12 points, or 0.23%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 62.5 points, or 0.34%.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) fell 5.3% in premarket trading after the chipmaker disclosed $7 billion in operating losses for its foundry business in 2023, steeper than the $5.2 billion reported the year before.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) dipped 0.8%, adding to its near 5% drop on Tuesday after the automaker missed first-quarter delivery estimates.

Paramount Global gained 4.1% after a report said the media giant has been discussing entering into talks with David Ellison, the founder of the Skydance media company, for a potential deal.

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