Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Fed Rate Decision

Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Fed Rate Decision

Stock futures rose ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates, while European markets advanced after the European Central Bank said it would shield weaker economies from rising borrowing costs.

Futures for the S&P 500 added 1% Wednesday, pointing to gains for the broad index at the open. The S&P 500 fell into a bear market—a decline of more than 20% from its January peak—this week as mounting expectations that the Fed would raise rates faster than previously signaled sent a shudder through markets.

The Federal Reserve will lay out details of its latest effort to quell inflation through tighter monetary policy at 2 p.m. ET. Investors expect a 0.75-percentage-point increase to the Fed’s target rate, which would be the biggest since 1994. The central bank had previously guided for a 0.5-percentage-point increase, but rate expectations shifted higher after data showed inflation running at its fastest pace in more than four decades.

Technology stocks were poised to open higher. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 added 1.2% and contracts for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8%.

U.S. government bonds steadied after sliding in recent weeks in a selloff that has pushed yields to their highest levels in more than a decade. The yield on 10-year Treasurys slipped to 3.376% from 3.482% Tuesday.

European stocks and peripheral government bonds in the eurozone rallied after the ECB said it would hold an ad hoc meeting Wednesday to discuss turbulence in the region’s bond markets. Investors have dumped southern European government debt of late after the ECB set out plans to wind down its bond-buying program and raise rates to tame inflation.

The yield on 10-year Italian government bonds fell to 3.851% from 4.111% Tuesday. Yields move inversely to bond prices. They also fell in Greece, Spain and other eurozone members perceived as vulnerable to higher borrowing costs.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1.4%, led by shares of banks and insurers. Shares of Italian banks, which own a substantial chunk of government bonds, had suffered as the debt fell in price.

Intesa Sanpaolo

and

UniCredit

were among the best performers in the European market Wednesday.

The ECB outlined a plan to buy more bonds of weaker eurozone governments under an existing bond-purchase program. It tasked ECB staff with accelerating the design of a new instrument that would narrow differences in borrowing costs across the region, addressing financial imbalances that have long posed a problem to the currency union.

“They wanted to make sure financing conditions don’t deteriorate too much,” said

Willem Sels,

chief investment officer at HSBC Private Banking and Wealth Management. He said the meeting signaled that the ECB was ready to cushion markets earlier than investors had expected.

Where in Americans’ household budgets is inflation hitting the hardest? WSJ’s Jon Hilsenrath traces the roots of the rising prices to learn why some sectors have risen so much more than others. Photo Illustration: Laura Kammermann/WSJ

Cryptocurrencies kept tumbling. Bitcoin fell 4.2% to $21,080, putting the digital currency on track for a ninth straight daily loss. Ethereum slid 6.4%, extending a rout in cryptocurrencies that has taken a toll on companies including Coinbase Global, which is laying off almost a fifth of its staff, and Celsius Network, a crypto lender now examining restructuring options. Coinbase shares fell 2.5% in premarket trading.

Behind the selloff in crypto, and the recent turbulence in traditional financial markets, is the Fed’s likely change of gears in efforts to douse decadeshigh inflation. For years after the 2008-9 financial crisis, stocks, bonds and more speculative assets climbed as central banks pinned borrowing costs at low levels to goose inflation and economic growth.

The pandemic, whose economic effects central banks and governments combated with unprecedented financial stimulus, turbocharged that upward trend. Rampant inflation has prompted the Fed and many of its counterparts to unwind easy-money policies, and the assets that had benefited most from them are suffering.

Dorian Carrell, a fund manager at

Schroders,

said guidance the Fed gives about the direction of interest rates Wednesday is more important for markets than the size of the rate increase. Uncertainty about interest rates has been driving volatility in stock and credit markets, he said.

The S&P 500 sank further into bear territory on Tuesday.



Photo:

Michael Nagle/Zuma Press

Corrections & Amplifications
Yields on 10-year government bonds in Italy settled at 4.111% on Tuesday. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said yields settled at 4.067%. (Corrected on June 15)

Write to Joe Wallace at joe.wallace@wsj.com

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