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Wall Street set for flat open after soft retail sales data

Published 2024/06/18, 12:28
Updated 2024/06/18, 15:23
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Lisa Pauline Mattackal and Ankika Biswas

(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open flat on Tuesday following softer-than-expected U.S. retail sales data, with focus on commentary from a slew of Federal Reserve officials later in the day.

U.S. retail sales rose 0.1% last month, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales, which are mostly goods and are not adjusted for inflation, gaining 0.3% in May.

Markets slightly increased bets on two interest rate cuts from the Fed this year following the data, according to LSEG's FedWatch.

"The weaker-than-expected data's telling me that consumers are still having a difficult time and that the economy is still moving forward, but at a slower pace," Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth Management, said.

"The Fed has to start thinking about cutting interest rates, perhaps sooner than the end of the year."

Technology stocks were set to continue their strong run after lifting the benchmark S&P 500 to its fifth record high close in six sessions on Monday, and the Nasdaq to its sixth consecutive record close.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index also hit a record high on Monday.

Among chip stocks, Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO) climbed 1.6% in premarket trading after hitting a record high on Monday, while Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), U.S.-listed shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) were also up between 1.5% and 3.1% before the bell on Tuesday.

Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) rose 0.4%, while other megacaps Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) rose 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively.

Focus will now be on comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials, which will be scrutinized for clues on how the central bank's members view the current economic situation and path ahead for monetary policy, after recent projections showed the Fed now sees just one interest rate cut this year instead of the three previously forecast.

New York Fed President John Williams said recent inflation data was encouraging, and things were moving in the "right direction" for monetary policy in an interview.

Six other Fed speakers are scheduled for Tuesday, including voting committee members Thomas Barkin and Adriana Kugler. [FED/DIARY]

Hopes for multiple interest rate cuts this year, enthusiasm for artificial intelligence linked companies and strong earnings from other tech firms have helped support equities, although rallies over the past few months have largely been on the back of a handful of heavily weighted stocks.

Citigroup raised the year-end target for the S&P 500 to 5,600 points from 5,100, representing a 2.3% upside from the index's previous close.

At 8:49 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 15 points, or 0.04%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.01%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 13.25 points, or 0.07%.

Homebuilder Lennar (NYSE:LEN) fell 2.7% after forecasting lower-than-expected third-quarter home deliveries.

Edtech company Chegg jumped 17.6% after announcing job cuts as part of a restructuring plan.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Merck rose 1.1% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its next-generation vaccine to protect adults against the pneumococcal disease.

Markets will be closed on Wednesday for the Juneteenth holiday.

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