U.S. stock futures on Thursday were bouncing around as Wall Street digests the second successive rate cut of 2019 by the Federal Reserve that is intended to forestall sluggish global growth and harmful trade clashes. However, the central bank failed to signal a commitment to further interest-rate reductions or kick off fresh quantitative-easing measures.
How are markets performing?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
were up 49 points, or 0.2%, at 27,191, those for the S&P 500 index
edged 5.40 points, or 0.2%, higher at 3,013.50, while Nasdaq-100 futures
added 13.50 points to reach 7,930.75, a gain of 0.2%.
rose 36.28 points, or 0.1% to 27,147, while the S&P 500
added 1.03 point, or less than 0.1%, to 3,006.73. The Nasdaq
lost 8.63 points, or 0.1%, to close at 8,177.39.At Thursday’s lows, the Dow was down 211.65 points, the S&P had lost 26.97 points and the Nasdaq fell 99.80 points.
What’s driving the market?
A parade of central bankers were the focus on Thursday after the Fed cut interest rates by a quarter percentage point to a range of 1.75% to 2% Wednesday afternoon, as expected. However, three of the 10 members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee dissented, marking the highest number of dissenters since 2016, and raising doubts that the FOMC would deliver further hoped-for cuts to benchmark rates this year or kick off a new round of QE.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren voted against a rate cut, while St. Louis Fed President James Bullard preferred to cut rates by 50 basis points.
Other policy makers came into focus, with the Bank of Japan, holding its interest rates steady, but signaling that it may cut rates at its next meeting in late October, while the Swiss National Bank also made no changes to its current monetary-policy plans.
The Bank of England unanimously voted to hold interest rates at 0.75% and maintain its government purchases at £435 billion.
However, Norway’s central bank raised its interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.50% to the highest level in 5 years, while the Bank of Indonesia cut rates by a quarter-of-a-percentage point, as expected.
Investors had been anticipating that the Fed would follow the European Central Bank’s lead by communicating appetite for more accommodative monetary policy amid the U.S.-China trade tensions and slowing international expansion. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has emphasized that the U.S. economy is petering but healthy.
“The ECB gave the Fed the opening to act more aggressively, but the FOMC just isn’t ready to take that step,” wrote Steven Blitz, chief economist at TS Lombard, in a Thursday research report.
“Powell has a split at the FOMC he has yet to bridge. There are those who believe the global situation risks slowing the US economy and unleashing disinflation versus those who view the world as background noise and focus on domestic variables as the key determinant of fed funds policy and see the US economy doing just fine, thank you,” he said.
The central bank moves come as the Paris-based OECD in a Thursday report underscored that intensifying tariff disputes have stalled economic growth world-wide. “Escalating trade conflicts are taking an increasing toll on confidence and investment, adding to policy uncertainty, aggravating risks in financial markets and endangering already weak growth prospects worldwide,” the OECD forecasts said.
Meanwhile, investors also were paying attention to the Fed’s intervention in money markets, with the New York Federal Reserve expected on Thursday to hold its third repurchasing auction in as many days, injecting a further $75 billion by buying securities from Wall Street dealers.
On Wednesday, at the post-decision news conference, Powell said “it is certainly possible that we’ll need to resume the organic growth of the balance sheet sooner than we thought,” in response to the liquidity shortage.
On the international trade front, Chinese and U.S. delegates are meeting Thursday and Friday ahead of higher-level meetings expected early October to resolve the year-long trade dispute.
In economic data, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index fell to 12.0 in September after registering a reading of 16.8 in August. The report was above forecasts for a reading of 10 by economists polled by MarketWatch. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions. Separately, initial jobless claims rose 2,000 to 208,000 in the seven days ended Sept. 14, the government said Thursday. Claims fell a revised 13,000 to 206,000, a nearly five-month low, in the prior week. Economists estimated new claims would total a seasonally adjusted 215,000.
At 10 a.m. Eastern, a report on existing home sales will be released as well as a reading of leading indicators.
How did other markets trade?
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery
the U.S. benchmark contract, rose 92 cents, or 1.6%, to $59.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, it posted the largest daily gain for the most-active contract since Sept. 22, 2008 and finished at its highest level since May, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
fell $10.10, or 0.3%, at $1,505.60 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a gauge of the buck against a basket of leading rivals, receded by 0.3%.
In Asia overnight, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
fell 1.1%. China’s CSI 300 Index
gained 0.4%, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 index
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600
headed 0.2% higher.