Wall Street points to mixed day of trading

Wall Street teetered between gains and losses in premarket trading Tuesday ahead of a discussion with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that might give clues about the central bank’s interest rate plans for 2023.

Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index inched up 0.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was unchanged.

Last week’s unexpectedly strong U.S. data on hiring and wages dampened hopes the Fed would be satisfied with a series of aggressive rate hikes over the past year to cool inflation, and would ease off. The Fed last week raised rates by another quarter point, its eighth hike since March, and said inflation is still too high.

During a scheduled interview at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Powell is “likely to repeat that inflation is still too high” and the “policy rate will have to rise,” said Rubeela Farooqi and John Silvia of High-Frequency Economics in a report.

There is concern that the Fed and other central banks might tip the global economy into recession, collateral damage from the fight against inflation.

In Europe at midday, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.5%, Frankfurt’s DAX fell 0.2% and the CAC 40 in Paris was flat.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost less than 0.1% to 27,685.47 after the government reported wages rose 4.8% over a year earlier in December. That was close to a three-decade high as workers press for higher pay to keep pace with inflation.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,248.09 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.6% to 21,298.70. The Kospi in Seoul added 0.6% to 2,451.71.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.5% to 7,504.10 after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised its benchmark rate by 0.25 percentage points to 3.35%. The RBA said more hikes are planned to lower inflation that is at a 33-year high of 7.8% to its target range of 2% to 3%.

India’s Sensex fell 0.4% to 60,284.40. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Jakarta and Bangkok advanced.

The yield on the two-year Treasury, which tends to track expectations for the Fed, leaped by an unusually wide margin to 4.47% from Friday’s 4.29% and the previous day’s 4.1%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans, jumped to 3.64% from 3.52% late Friday.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.15 to $75.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 72 cents to $74.11 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, advanced $1.07 to $82.06 per barrel in London. It added $1.05 the previous session to $80.99.

The dollar fell to 132.10 yen from Monday’s 132.67 yen. The euro declined to $1.0708 from $1.0728.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.6% and the Dow lost 0.1%. The Nasdaq composite tumbled 1%.


McDonald reported from Beijing; Ott reported from Washington.