Wall Street futures rally as traders await rate hike announcement


Stock futures stage rally

U.S. stock futures pointed to a sharply higher open for Wall Street on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve prepares to announce its decision and economic projections after its two-day monetary policy meeting concludes later in the session.

Economists widely expect the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point, the first increase since 2018.

The central will wrap its meeting at 2 p.m. ET, with Chairman Jerome Powell expected to hold a press conference at 2:30 pm ET.

As of 5:30 a.m. ET, the blue-chip Dow futures were indicated 296 points, or 0.88% to 33,828. S&P 500 futures jumped 46.75 points, or 1.1% to 4,308.75 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures gained 227.75 points, or 1.69% to 13,679.5.

Zelenskyy says peace talks with Russia sounding “more realistic”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy there is possible room for compromise in talks with Russia as Moscow’s positions are beginning to “sound more realistic.”

Zelenskiy made the remarks shortly after offering Russia an apparent olive branch by stating Ukraine will not become a member of the NATO military alliance.

Russia said early Wednesday that a neutral Ukraine with its own army along the lines of Sweden or Austria was being considered at as a possible compromise.

Zelensky is expected to give up a speech to the U.S. Congress this morning as his nation continues to fight Russian troops.

The Ukraine-Russia war has rattled global financial markets and pushed crude prices sharply higher.

As of 5:30 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $1.84, or 1.91% to $98.28 a barrel. Global Brent crude futures rose $2.63, or 2.63% to $102.54 a barrel.

Tesla suspends operations at Shanghai factory for two days amid a surge in Covid cases

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has halted production at its gigafactory in Shanghai for two days as China tightens Covid restrictions to contain the latest surge in new infections of the Omicron variant.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a notice sent internally and to suppliers, that the plant will be halted and no immediate reason was given for the stoppage.

The Shanghai factory operates around the clock and is being ramped-up to produce about a million cars each year.

China’s latest lockdowns are among its biggest since the pandemic began in 2020. Authorities have announced lockdowns that include technology hub Shenzhen and the Jilin province, which is home to companies such as Volkswagen and Toyota (NYSE: TM).