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Wall St. set to open higher after Powell's remarks raise rate cut bets

Kitco News

(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday, as hopes of an interest rate cut later this month were boosted by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comment that the central bank would “act as appropriate” to sustain record U.S. growth.

In prepared remarks ahead of his two-day testimony to Congress, Powell said overall growth has also “moderated,” while “there is a risk that weak inflation will be even more persistent than we currently anticipate”.

“I guess chairman Powell feels there is more downside risk to the economy and the Fed needs to accommodate that,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners.

Wall Street’s three main indexes have retreated from last week’s record closing highs after a strong June jobs report on Friday tempered expectations of a sharp rate cut this month.

While traders had all but abandoned bets of a 50 basis-point reduction, Powell’s comments pushed them 5% higher, CME Group’s FedWatch tool showed. Bets of the first U.S. rate cut since the financial crisis stand close to 95% for the July 30-31 meeting.

Investors will also have another opportunity to gauge policymakers’ thinking when minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting will be released at 2 p.m. ET.

The second-quarter earnings season starts in earnest next week, but investors are on edge following warnings of the U.S.-China trade war hurting corporate profits. S&P 500 companies are expected to report a 0.2% dip in profits from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

At 8:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 113 points, or 0.42%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 13.25 points, or 0.44% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 60 points, or 0.76%.

Shares of rate-sensitive lenders, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co, fell between 0.2% and 0.7% in premarket trade as yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond dropped after Powell’s comments. [US/]

Reporting by Medha Singh and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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