Futures slip as investors await Fed rate verdict

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures drifted lower on Wednesday as longer-dated Treasury yields rose ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision at the end of its two-day meeting.

The Fed is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged but investors will focus on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s conference at 1430 ET (1830 GMT) after the statement to gauge how long the central bank could keep rates elevated.

Traders’ bets of a 25 basis point rate hike in December currently stand at 27.4%, as per CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

“We know that Jerome Powell won’t call the end of the policy tightening after seeing a blowout growth data,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, referring to a robust third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) report.

Weighing on sentiment, the yield on the 10-year note rose to 4.905% while that on the two-year note, which best reflects short-term rate expectations, was largely steady at 5.07%.

The Fed’s messaging on interest rates will likely set the tone for U.S. equities following a sharp fall in October due to a surge in Treasury yields, the Middle East conflict and mixed earnings reports.

Among major movers, Advanced Micro Devices slipped 2.4% in premarket trading after the chipmaker forecast fourth-quarter revenue and gross margins below Wall Street estimates.

CVS Health, Humana and Estee Lauder are among major companies reporting earnings on Wednesday.

Overall, analysts expect earnings growth of 4.9% for S&P 500 companies in the third quarter, per LSEG data, a sharp improvement over the 1.6% growth forecast at the beginning of October.

Investors will also parse through a slew of data on the labor market, including the ADP National Employment report and a reading on job openings later on Wednesday, ahead of the monthly payrolls report for October on Friday.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) survey on manufacturing activity last month will also provide more clues on the strength of the economy.

The release of quarterly refunding details from the Treasury Department will also be in focus on Wednesday, given a sharp rise in longer-dated bond yields in recent weeks that has fueled concerns about the U.S. fiscal deficit.

Analysts have cautioned that any surprises to the upside may push the 10-year yield higher, likely piling more pressure on stocks.

At 5:17 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 106 points, or 0.32%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 13.5 points, or 0.32%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 49.25 points, or 0.34%.

Shares of payroll processor Paycom Software plunged 35.6% premarket on a downbeat fourth-quarter revenue outlook, while First Solar gained 4.4% as the solar panel maker raised the lower end of its full-year profit forecast.

(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; additional reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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