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U.S. Stock Futures Edge Higher Amid Focus on Inflation and Data Releases; Tech Sector Sees Profit-Taking

U.S. stock futures showed a modest uptick in evening trading on Wednesday, following a mixed session on Wall Street. Attention shifted towards forthcoming data releases concerning inflation and consumer activity in the United States.

Despite a higher-than-anticipated consumer price index for February, the U.S. stock markets appeared relatively unfazed, but investors awaited the release of producer price index and retail sales figures on Thursday for further insight.

The anticipation surrounding these data releases led traders to hold off on making significant investment decisions.

S&P 500 Futures edged up 0.1% to 5,238.75 points, while Nasdaq 100 Futures advanced 0.3% to 18,373.50 points by 19:33 ET (23:33 GMT). Dow Jones Futures also saw a slight increase, rising 0.1% to 39,557.0 points.

As the Federal Reserve meeting looms, the focus on inflation and retail sales intensifies. The recent trend of persistent inflationary pressures adds weight to the likelihood of the Fed maintaining higher interest rates for a prolonged period, which could have implications for the stock market in the short term. Central bank officials have indicated that any adjustments to interest rates in 2024 will largely hinge on inflationary trends.

The upcoming retail sales data for February is expected to provide further insights into inflationary pressures and consumer spending patterns.

The flat-to-lower close of Wall Street indices on Wednesday was primarily driven by profit-taking in technology stocks, which had experienced a significant surge driven by excitement surrounding artificial intelligence.

The S&P 500 declined marginally by 0.2% to 5,165.31 points, with the NASDAQ Composite experiencing more pronounced losses, down 0.5% to 16,177.77 points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, saw a slight uptick, buoyed by gains in industrial heavyweight 3M Company, rising 0.1% to close at 39,043.32 points.

3M Company was the standout performer on the Dow, surging 5.4% after announcing a leadership overhaul earlier in the week.

Losses across Wall Street were mitigated by strength in energy stocks, which mirrored the robust gains in oil prices.

In aftermarket trading, Under Armour Inc saw a roughly 6% increase following the announcement of Kevin Plank as the new President and Chief Executive Officer. Conversely, electric vehicle manufacturer Fisker Inc faced a significant setback, plummeting 47% amid reports of hiring advisers for a potential bankruptcy filing.

Singtel Shares Dip Over 1% Amid Reports of Advanced Talks for Optus Stake Sale

Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) witnessed a decline of more than 1% in early trading on Thursday following reports of its advanced negotiations to offload a significant stake in Australian telco Optus to Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management (TSX:BAM).

These reports emerged subsequent to Singtel’s dismissal of an article in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on Wednesday, which speculated about a potential sale of the entirety of Australia’s second-largest telecommunications group for up to A$18 billion ($11.93 billion).

Singtel’s shares experienced a drop of 0.8% in the latest trading session after initially sliding by as much as 1.6%. This comes after a nearly 4% surge in share prices on Wednesday.

As of Thursday, Singtel has yet to respond to Reuters’ inquiries regarding the stake sale, while Brookfield has opted not to comment on the matter.

According to a Reuters report on Wednesday, Singtel is currently engaged in advanced discussions regarding a “significant” stake sale to Brookfield, as per a source familiar with the situation.

SingTel reaffirmed on Wednesday that Optus remains a crucial and strategic component of the group’s operations, emphasizing its long-term commitment to Australia.

November saw Optus facing public backlash following a 12-hour network blackout impacting over 10 million Australians. This incident prompted an investigation, the resignation of Optus’ CEO, and a subsequent fine of A$1.5 million ($990,900).

Investing is like playing a strategic game of chess with your money, except instead of pawns and knights, you have stocks and bonds. It’s about making calculated moves, anticipating your opponent’s next play (or in this case, market trends), and occasionally sacrificing a piece (hello, risk tolerance!) to secure the ultimate checkmate: financial success. So, grab your metaphorical chessboard, sharpen your wits, and let’s outsmart the market together! After all, in the game of investing, the only thing we’re gambling on is our own brilliance