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Stock Futures Steady After Wall Street’s Retreat; Focus Shifts to Powell Testimony

U.S. stock index futures found their footing in evening trading on Tuesday, offering a respite after Wall Street experienced a significant downturn from its recent record highs. The spotlight now shifts to the impending testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, with investors eager for insights into the central bank’s monetary policy stance.

The market retreat witnessed during the session was fueled by a combination of profit-taking, notably in the technology sector, and concerns surrounding U.S. interest rates. Despite this, futures contracts indicated a degree of stability in stock markets, with attention refocusing on forthcoming indicators related to monetary policy.

S&P 500 Futures edged up 0.1% to 5,088.75 points, while Nasdaq 100 Futures rose 0.2% to 17,964.50 points as of 18:22 ET (23:22 GMT). Dow Jones Futures also saw a slight uptick to 38,622.00 points.

Powell’s two-day testimony, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, is anticipated to maintain a hawkish tone, reflecting recent remarks from Fed officials regarding persistent inflation pressures. Economic data indicating resilience in the U.S. economy offers further support for the Fed’s stance on keeping interest rates at elevated levels for the foreseeable future. The upcoming release of nonfarm payrolls data on Friday is poised to provide additional insights into the economic landscape.

Despite market uncertainties surrounding Powell’s testimony, the S&P 500 slid 1% to 5,078.65 points on Tuesday, while the NASDAQ Composite dropped 1.6% to close at 15,939.59 points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1% to 38,585.19 points.

Notably, technology stocks bore the brunt of the market downturn, with concerns over profit-taking exacerbating the sector’s vulnerability. The recent surge driven by artificial intelligence-related stocks also faced scrutiny, with questions emerging about the sustainability of the rally.

In after-hours trading, cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: CRWD) surged 23.5% on better-than-expected quarterly earnings and guidance, lifting its peers such as Palo Alto Networks Inc (NASDAQ: PANW), Zscaler Inc (NASDAQ: ZS), and Fortinet Inc (NASDAQ: FTNT) by 3% to 4%. Conversely, luxury department store chain Nordstrom Inc (NYSE: JWN) experienced a 9% decline after disappointing annual earnings forecasts.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals Receives Price Target Increase from Oppenheimer Amid Positive Growth Outlook

Oppenheimer raised Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:IONS) price target from $65.00 to $72.00, while affirming its Outperform rating on the stock. This decision followed discussions with the company’s management subsequent to Oppenheimer’s recent coverage initiation.

In the dialogue with Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ management, the analyst highlighted several key takeaways. The company anticipates a robust financial performance for fiscal year 2024, with guidance projecting total revenues surpassing $575 million and approximately $1.7 billion in cash reserves by year-end.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has articulated plans for regulatory submissions for its drug Wainua (eplontersen) for treating ATTRv-PN outside the United States, along with a New Drug Application (NDA) filing for olezarsen for Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS) within 2024.

Moreover, the Phase 3 CARDIO-TTRansform clinical trial evaluating eplontersen for ATTR-CM treatment aims to yield topline data by 2025. The management’s consistent fulfillment of event rate expectations bodes well for the trial’s progress. Recent adjustments to the Phase 3 HELIOS-B study protocol were also viewed favorably for enhancing the study design.

Potential near-term clinical data from partnered programs could trigger milestone payments, presenting additional financial opportunities for Ionis. Lastly, the company’s strategic deal with Royalty Pharma (RPRX) concerning Spinraza and pelacarsen was recognized as a prudent financial move. This thorough evaluation prompted Oppenheimer to revise its model, setting a new price target of $72.00 for Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ shares.

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