Stock futures were little changed to slightly higher Wednesday evening as market participants continued to parse through the Federal Reserve’s September monetary policy announcement, and looked ahead to Thursday’s economic data reports including new weekly jobless claims. Central bank officials signaled that near-zero interest rates would remain for at least the next three years, as the US economy continues to face risks around the ongoing pandemic.
Shares of big tech companies including Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) ticked higher Wednesday evening after dropping during the regular session, with major tech shares having renewed last week’s declines.
But elsewhere, newly public tech companies Snowflake (SNOW) and JFrog (FROG) each steadied in late trading after surging in their public debuts, as investors embraced a fresh set of high-growth software names. Snowflake, a cloud data company backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Salesforce’s venture capital arm, saw shares more than double their IPO price during Wednesday’s session, and JFrog’s stock jumped as much as 75%. Other software companies including Sumo Logic and Unity Software are set to go public later this week.
Market participants also digested the Federal Open Market Committee’s newly issued expectation for interest rates to remain near zero until at least the end of 2023. Fed officials upgraded their economic projections for this year, and now anticipate a shallower decline in real GDP and a lower unemployment rate by year-end versus their early-summer projections.
Still, officials suggested that the quicker-than-expected early economic recovery could be jeopardized in absence of further fiscal stimulus.
“The fiscal policy actions that have been taken thus far have made a critical difference to families, businesses, and communities across the country. Even so, the current economic downturn is the most severe in our lifetimes,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in remarks Wednesday. “It will take a while to get back to the levels of economic activity and employment that prevailed at the beginning of this year, and it may take continued support from both monetary and fiscal policy to achieve that.”
Prospects of further support from Congress before the November presidential elections remain dim, however, especially after the Senate failed last week to advance another coronavirus relief package. The expiration of the federal enhanced unemployment benefits has left tens of millions of Americans put out of work during the pandemic without additional support, with the lapse of these benefits expected to weigh on consumer spending and economic activity as a whole. The Commerce Department on Wednesday reported that retail sales growth slowed for a fourth straight month in August.
6:17 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open slightly higher
Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 6:17 p.m. ET Wednesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,395.00, up 5.5 points or 0.16%
Dow futures (YM=F): 28,099.00, up 45 points or 0.16%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,292.75, up 24 points, or 0.21%