Stock futures gain on trade optimism; inflation data eyed

Stock futures gain on trade optimism; inflation data eyed

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, driven by optimism over the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks, and as investors awaited the latest inflation data.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

President Donald Trump said he would be willing to let a March 1 deadline slide if the two countries were close to a deal and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in Beijing that he hoped for “productive” meetings.

“Comments from Trump gave investors plenty of cause for optimism, with the President suggesting he very much wants a deal and could let the deadline slide,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London, wrote in a note.

Sentiment was also lifted by progress on a deal to avert another U.S. government shutdown, with the S&P 500 ending Tuesday above its 200-day moving average for the first time since early December.

The benchmark index is now nearly 17 percent away from its December lows, fueled by optimism on trade, a largely upbeat fourth-quarter earnings season and a dovish Federal Reserve.

At 6:33 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 70 points, or 0.28 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.22 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 29.75 points, or 0.42 percent.

Data due at 8:30 a.m. ET is expected to show that the consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in January after recording a drop of 0.1 percent in December.

In late-January, the Fed indicated its three-year-drive to tighten monetary policy may be at an end and said it would be “patient” before making any further moves.

The fourth-quarter earnings season is in the last leg, and about 71 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported have beaten consensus estimates.

Analysts now estimate that first-quarter earnings will decline 0.3 percent, which would be the first loss since the earnings recession ended in the second quarter of 2016.

Activision Blizzard Inc rose 2.5 percent premarket after the videogame maker announced share buyback plan and job cuts.

Dish Network Corp declined 6.5 percent after the U.S. satellite TV service provider lost more-than-expected pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter.

Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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