Wall Street futures inch higher ahead of Federal Reserve minutes

Federal Reserve

Fed’s FOMC minutes in focus

U.S. stock index futures were higher on Wednesday as traders awaited the Federal Reserve to release minutes of its January 28-29 monetary policy meeting.

The FOMC minutes, which are due out later in the day, could help explain what policymakers are thinking about potential economic risks, particularly those arising from the coronavirus epidemic. Policymakers held interest rates steady at the January meeting, and signaled that they saw little to no need to boost the U.S. economy further anytime soon.

At 4:30 a.m. ET, the blue-chip Dow futures were up 78.5 points, or 0.27% to 29,289.5. The S&P 500 futures rose 8.37 points, or 0.25% to 3,377.62 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 35.62 points, or 0.37% to 9,671.62.

Oil futures were also higher, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rising $0.42, or around 0.86%, at $52.74 per barrel. International Brent crude oil futures were at $58.17 a barrel, up $0.42 cents, or about 0.73%.

Coronavirus death toll tops 2,000

Meanwhile, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China jumped to 2,004 on Wednesday morning after 136 more deaths were reported, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

Most of the deaths were reported in central Hubei province, where the deadly virus originated late last year before spiraling into a nationwide epidemic.

However, the number of new cases fell to under 2,000 for a second straight day. The commission reported 1,749 new cases of people infected with the COVID-19 illness. The updated numbers on the virus for China bring the total for deaths to 2,004 and cases to 74,186.

Groupon exits the goods category; stock tumbles

Shares of Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) are trading lower after the e-commerce platform reported disappointing fourth-quarter results and announced plans to exit the goods industry.

The company posted quarterly earnings of $0.07 per share late Tuesday, below Wall Street expectations of $0.15 per share. Revenue came in at $612.3 million, below analysts’ forecast of $709.35 million.

Groupon said it would exit the goods industry and focus on local experiences. “We believe this plan will allow us to devote the focused execution necessary to take share in the growing local experiences market,” CEO Rich Williams said in a statement.

The stock was trading 16.07% lower to $2.56 in pre-market hours Wednesday.