By Devik Jain and Bansari Mayur Kamdar
(Reuters) - The Nasdaq was set to open higher on Friday after stellar results from Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL ), while the latest reading of the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge to measure inflation eased concerns around faster interest rate hikes.
The iPhone maker gained 3% in premarket trading after posting record sales for its flagship phones in the holiday quarter.
The core personal consumption expenditure price index, rose 0.5% for the month of December, in line with expectations.
"It does look like the overall number was a little bit better than what the market was expecting, and so that is causing a little bit of a reversal in the premarket," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
Still, inflation accelerated 4.9% year-on-year in December, the biggest rise since 1983, while consumer spending fell last month amid tight supply chains and raging COVID-19 infections.
Wall Street's main indexes are on course for their fourth straight weekly fall as traders and big banks raised their bets to nearly five rate hikes by December after the Federal Reserve hinted at a rate hike in March and warned of persistent inflation.
"While it doesn't feel fun, we are exiting a period of 0% interest rates and trillions of dollars in Fed asset purchases," said Darrell Spence, economist at Capital Group.
"We knew it had to happen sometime, and now that we are exiting that environment and moving into a different regime, we should expect a little bit more volatility."
Geopolitical tensions between Russia and West over Ukraine also increased market volatility, with the Wall Street's fear gauge last up 0.75 point at 31.24.
The benchmark S&P 500 narrowly avoided correction for the fourth time this week on Thursday. Small-caps have suffered the most, with the Russell 2000 index now down 20.8% from its record-closing peak of Nov. 8 and confirming a bear market.
Russell 2000 futures were down 0.6%.
The fourth-quarter earnings season has been mixed so far. Of the 145 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings as of Thursday, 79.3% beat profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data.
Visa (NYSE: V ) added 4.3% after beating Wall Street's quarterly estimates as more international travel and e-commerce drove an increase spending volumes.
Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT ) slipped 4.0% after the world's largest heavy-duty equipment maker warned of margin pressure from higher production and labor costs.
VF Corp (NYSE: VFC ) slid 5% after the Vans owner cut its full-year revenue outlook on delivery delays and worker shortages, while storage hardware maker Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC ) fell 8.1% on bleak forecast.
"Supply chain issues are going to be with us for at least the first half of this year ... these issues combined with higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions are going to continue to weigh on stocks for awhile," said Sam Stovall, chief Investment strategist at CFRA Research.
Commission-free brokerage Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ: HOOD ) dropped 12.1% after reporting a net loss.
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