U.S. stock markets set to extend losses as Fed turns hawkish; CureVac plunges 46%

Wall Street 

Fed policymakers take more hawkish tone

U.S. stocks look poised for more losses Thursday, after the Federal Reserve issued projections showing much higher chances of an interest rate hike as soon as 2023 at the conclusion of its two-day monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

However, the Fed kept interest rates unchanged at a range of between zero and 0.25% and stated that it expects heightened inflation this year will come back down by next year.

The central bank also said in a statement that it will maintain its $120 billion bond-buying program until substantial further progress has been made toward its maximum employment and price stability goals.

Its latest projections also see inflation dropping to 2.1% in 2022, as opposed to its March projections of 2%. In March, the Fed had set 2024 as the earliest time for hiking interest rates.

By 5:30 a.m. ET, the blue-chip Dow futures gave away 114 points, or 0.34% to 33,791. S&P 500 futures dropped 15.62 points, or 0.37% to 4,197.38 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures were down 76.75 points, or 0.55% to 13,896.

Jobless claims data on tap

Today, market participants will keep a close eye on the initial jobless claims for the week ended June 12. The report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, could offer some clues to the health of the U.S. labor market, which is looking to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect 360,000 claims were filed last week, down from 376,000 during previous week. Continuing claims for the week to May 5 are seen coming in at 3.425 million compared with 3.499 million during prior week.

Microsoft names CEO as chairman

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced Thursday announced that its board of directors has unanimously elected CEO Satya Nadella as chairman. He will replace independent director John Thompson.

The software giant said in a press release that Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review.

Microsoft named Nadella CEO in 2014. He is a 29-year veteran of the company, and is the second person to be named CEO and chairman since co-founder Bill Gates.

Shares of Microsoft were down less than 1% to $255.85 apiece in pre-market trading hours Thursday.

CureVac sinks 46% on disappointing Covid-19 vaccine results

Meanwhile, shares of CureVac (NASDAQ: CVAC) plummeted before the opening bell Thursday after the biotechnology company announced that its experimental vaccine it has designed to fight Covid-19 is only 47% effective.

In a press release late Wednesday, the Germany-based company said CVnCoV showed an efficacy of just 47% in a late-stage trial that included 40,000 volunteers in Europe and Latin America.

That is below the minimum 50% effectiveness cutoff required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As of this writing, CureVac stock was indicated $43.65, or 46.05% to $51.14 per share in the premarket trading session.