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Stock futures fall after Fed induced relief rally

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Stock futures fell in early morning trade Thursday, putting Wall Street on track to give back some of sharp gains seen in the previous session after the Federal Reserve raised rates by half a point.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 186 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday rose 932 points, or 2.81%, and the S&P 500 gained 2.99% for their biggest gains since 2020. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.19%.

Stocks rose for a third straight day to start the month, after the Fed increased its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points, as expected, and said it would begin reducing its balance sheet in June. However, investor sentiment, which has been bogged down since the start of the year, flipped during Powell’s news conference, when he clarified that the Fed is “not actively considering” a larger 75 basis point rate hike.

Some Wall Street strategists had suggested markets could see a relief rally after the rate increase. After Powell’s comments, investors seemed at ease about the central bank’s ability to slow inflation without triggering a recession.

Still, the Fed remains open to the prospect of taking rates above neutral to rein in inflation, Zachary Hill, head of portfolio strategy at Horizon Investments, noted.

“Despite the tightening that we have seen in financial conditions over the last few months, it is clear that the Fed would like to see them tighten further,” he said. “Higher equity valuations are incompatible with that desire, so unless supply chains heal rapidly or workers flood back into the labor force, any equity rallies are likely on borrowed time as Fed messaging becomes more hawkish once again.”

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Even after stocks rallied to finish the day, the market saw big moves on the down side after hours as companies continued reporting financial results for the last quarter. Etsy tumbled more than 12% and eBay lost 5.8% in extended trading, on lighter-than-expected revenue guidance for the second quarter. Meanwhile, Booking Holdings shares advanced more than 8% after hours.

Earnings continue on Thursday, with Shell, Shopify and ConocoPhillips set to report before the bell. Block, DoorDash, Shake Shack, Zillow and other big names will report after the market closes.

In economic data, investors will be eyeing jobless claims data, which is due out at 8:30 am

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