Stock Futures Struggle for Direction Before Fed Decision

The Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged for now

Deputy Editor
Mar 20, 2024 at 9:05 AM
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Stock futures are mixed ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, in which interest rates are largely expected to remain unchanged. Investors are eager for the 2 p.m. ET press conference featuring Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who could drop clues about the number of rate cuts on the dot plot for 2024 and beyond. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are lower following last session's 320-point win, while S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) future trade hesitantly on either side of fair value. 

Continue reading for more on today's market, including: 

  • Extreme bullish sentiment could spell trouble, per Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. 
  • Retail stock showing no signs of slowing. 
  • Plus, two stocks rising after earnings; and Best Buy upgraded. 

Futures March 20

5 Things You Need to Know Today

  1. The Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE) saw more than 1 million call contracts and 695,909 put contracts exchanged Tuesday. The single-session equity put/call ratio rose to 0.66, while the 21-day moving average remained at 0.71.
  2. Temu parent PDD Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PDD) is up 17.3% premarket, after the e-commerce name's stellar fourth-quarter results. The company cited improving consumer sentiment, and hopes to continue growing this year. Looking to jump back toward its January peak, the stock is up 61.8% since last March. 
  3. General Mills Inc (NYSE:GIS) stock is up 3.4% in electronic trading, after the food company posted strong fiscal third-quarter earnings and reaffirmed its current-quarter guidance. Heading into today, GIS is down 14.9% in 2024. 
  4. The shares of Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) are up 1.2% before the bell, after an upgrade from Telsey Advisory Group to "outperform" from "market perform," with a price-target hike to $95 from $85. Should these gains hold, Best Buy stock will break into positive territory for the year. 
  5. Plenty of economic data this week to go with the Fed's interest rate decision


Investors Unpack Interest Rate Decisions Overseas

Stocks in Asia finished higher this afternoon, as investors continue to take in yesterday’s Bank of Japan (DoJ) move to hike interest rates for the first time in 17 years. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China kept rates unchanged for one- and five-year loans. At the closing bell, Japan’s Nikkei added 0.7%, China’s Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.6%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng finished flat at 0.08%, and South Korea’s Kospi led the gainers with a 1.3% jump, thanks largely due to an outsized move from Samsung Electronics.

Indexes are looking mixed at midday in Europe. Luxury retail brands such as LVMH, Christian Dior, and Hermes on the heels of a profit warning for falling sales in Asia. Year-over-year, inflation data for the U.K. came in below expectations, at 3.4%. At last check, London’s FTSE 100 is off 0.2%, France’s CAC 40 has shed 0.6%, and Germany’s DAX is up 0.2%.


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