Wall Street set for slightly lower open ahead of Fed minutes

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were set to dip at open on Wednesday as investors cautiously awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting that could offer clues on the central bank’s views on inflation and an economic recovery.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Massive fiscal stimulus and swift vaccinations prompted several Fed officials at the meeting last month to project interest rate increases as early as next year, opening up a gap with those who do not see rates rising until 2024 at the earliest.

“The only thing that could move markets would be a surprise in the minutes regarding the discussion of raising rates,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“At this point nobody is anticipating that.”

A strong monthly payrolls report, which helped the S&P 500 hit its fourth consecutive record high on Tuesday, is only a small step towards the central bank’s threshold for considering tapering its massive support for the economy.

Value stocks, which include economically sensitive sectors, maintain a strong lead this year over their growth counterparts, dominantly tech-related firms. However, a resurgence in demand for tech stocks in recent sessions has raised questions over the longevity of value trade.

The upcoming first-quarter earnings season and progress in a multi-trillion infrastructure proposal could decide the path forward for market.

“The earnings season should be pretty good as we are seeing the economy reopen, jobs coming back … the expectation is increased guidance,” Nolte added.

At 8:20 a.m. EDT, Dow E-minis were down 32 points, or 0.1%, S&P 500 E-minis were down 3.5 points, or 0.09% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were down 11.75 points, or 0.09%.

Shares of energy firms Chevron Corp and Occidental Petroleum and cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd gained between 0.9% and 3.6% in premarket trading on optimism about an economic reopening.

Prison operator GEO Group fell about 10% after suspending quarterly dividend payments.

Shares of Ebon International rose 5% after the Chinese bitcoin mining machine maker responded to short-seller Hindenburg Research’s critical report.

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