Home Editor's Picks U.S. futures tick higher, consumer confidence survey ahead – what’s moving markets

U.S. futures tick higher, consumer confidence survey ahead – what’s moving markets

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Investing.com — U.S. stock futures point higher as traders return to their desks after a public holiday on Monday. The release of the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure later in the week is due to headline this week’s economic calendar, while an ebbing stream of corporate earnings could provide a glimpse into the health of the American consumer.

1. Futures tick higher

U.S. stock futures edged into the green on Tuesday, with investors looking ahead to key inflation data during this holiday-shortened trading week.

By 03:26 ET (07:26 GMT), the S&P 500 futures contract had added 9 points or 0.2%, Nasdaq 100 futures had gained 58 points or 0.3%, and Dow futures had climbed by 40 points or 0.1%.

Stock markets on Wall Street were closed for Memorial Day on Monday.

Highlighting the economic calendar this week is May’s personal consumption expenditures price index on Friday, widely known as the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation. Fed officials have recently suggested that they would like to see more proof that price gains in the U.S. are sustainably cooling toward the central bank’s stated 2% target before rolling out any potential interest rate cuts this year.

2. Consumer confidence data ahead

A relatively light schedule of economic releases Tuesday will feature the latest reading of the Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey.

Analysts expect the May figure, which is viewed as a potential leading indicator of consumer spending, to fall slightly to a mark of 96.0, down from 97.0 in the previous month.

The number sank to its lowest level more than 1-1/2 years in April as Americans fretted over elevated prices for essentials like food and gas, as well as income and the availability of jobs.

“Confidence retreated further in April [….] as consumers became less positive about the current labor market situation,” Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

3. Earnings season ebbs

The quarterly parade of earnings continues to slow, although several companies are still gearing up to their unveil their latest returns in the coming days.

Among them is Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), who will report following the close of markets on Wednesday. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have said that they expect the business software group to roughly meet Wall Street expectations thanks in part to a recovery in spending by small- and medium-sized businesses.

Elsewhere, members-only retailer Costco Wholesale Corp (NASDAQ:COST) and beauty store chain Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA) are tipped to provide a further glimpse into the state of the U.S. shopper when they report after the bell on Thursday. Consumers have recently showed signs that they are paring back expenditures on nonessential items in response to sticky inflation and higher interest rates.

4. Alibaba Health surges

Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba Health Information Technology (HK:0241) spiked on Tuesday after the firm clocked a jump in its annual earnings on improved margins and strong demand for healthcare services and pharmaceuticals on its platforms.

The company, which was acquired by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA) in 2014, posted a nearly 91% surge in adjusted net profit to 1.44 billion yuan ($200 million) for the year to March 31.

Revenue rose about 1% to 27.03 billion yuan, as sales appeared to be stagnating after COVID-led demand sparked stellar sales growth over the past three years. But Alibaba Health benefited from improved margins, especially on its online healthcare services, as well as pharmaceutical sales.

5. Oil muted

Crude prices hovered around the flatline, rebounding from recent losses ahead of a meeting by major producers to decide future output levels.

By 03:23 ET, the U.S. crude futures (WTI) inched up 0.2% to $78.72 a barrel, while the Brent contract traded down by 0.1% at $82.83 per barrel. Oil prices rose over 1% on Monday in muted trade owing to public holidays in the U.K. and the U.S., after sinking to the lowest levels since early-February last week.

All eyes are now on the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, which is set to take place online on June 2. Much of the focus will be on whether the cartel will extend its current voluntary production cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second half of the year.

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