By Shreyashi Sanyal and Shristi Achar A
(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were on track to open higher on Friday on optimism that a deal to avoid a catastrophic U.S. debt default could be reached over the weekend.
S&P 500 futures hit a 15-week high in early trading, while Nasdaq e-minis breached levels not seen in nine months.
The positive momentum carried through for much of the week as investors tracked progress in talks between top U.S. lawmakers for an agreement on increasing the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.
President Joe Biden and Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have voiced growing confidence about striking a deal soon, although they could be tripped up by last-minute opposition from the hardline House Freedom Caucus.
"The (investor) optimism is surrounding the comments being made by politicians regarding resolution of the debt ceiling issue," said Jason Pride, chief of investment strategy and research at Glenmede.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to speak at an economic forum later in the day, a panel discussion that will be scrutinized for any further clues on the path of U.S. monetary policy. Former chair Ben Bernanke is also expected to participate in the panel.
"He (Powell) should be articulating a need for the Fed to remain committed to bringing inflation down and committed to its path of interest rate hikes and tightening of monetary policy ... he is going to articulate data dependency on that," Pride said.
Regional banks showed signs of steadying after wild swings in the recent few weeks, with the KBW Regional Banking index up 8.5% for the week. It was also set to mark its best performance since early January last year.
The benchmark S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq were set for their best weekly performance since late March amid positive debt ceiling talks, less-than-feared earnings and economic data.
The S&P 500 banks index is on course to end the week 5.3% higher, snapping a three-week losing streak.
Deere & Co rose 3.5% after the heavy machinery company raised its annual net income forecast buoyed by robust farm incomes.
Shares of Foot Locker (NYSE: FL ) Inc plunged 25.1% after the footwear retailer cut its annual sales and profit forecasts, reeling under a sharp drop in demand and a hit from heavy discounts aimed at clearing excess inventories.
Morgan Stanley fell 0.4% after CEO James Gorman announced he would step down from the role in the next 12 months.
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