U.S. stock futures struggled for traction on Thursday, as oil prices renewed a march upward, following the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike since 2018 and promises of more to come.
Fears of an escalating conflict in Ukraine were in focus after Russian forces were accused of destroying a theater that had been sheltering hundreds in Mariupol.
How are stock-index futures trading?
S&P 500 futures
fell 0.1% to 4,343
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
fell 22 points to 33,929
dropped 0.2% to 13,913
Adding to a surge from the previous session, Wednesday’s action saw the Dow industrials
close up 518.17 points, or 1.6%, to 34,063, the S&P 500
gain 2.2% to 4,357.86 and the Nasdaq Composite Index
climb 3.8% to 13,436.55, its best one-day percentage rise since Nov. 4, 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
What’s driving the markets?
Stocks rallied Wednesday after the Federal Reserve delivered an as-expected quarter-percentage point interest-rate rise and laid out a path for several more increases to come this year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also said the U.S. economy was strong enough to cope with higher oil prices, but vowed not to let inflation get entrenched into the economy.
But oil prices were on the rise again Thursday, after three days of losses that have helped underpin equity markets. West Texas Intermediate crude
rose 3.3% to $98.27 a barrel, and global benchmark Brent
climbed 3.8% to $101.85 a barrel.
were also on the decline.
And while hopes for negotiations over the war in Ukraine have been helping to drive recent gains for equities, investors were met Thursday with reports of a Russian bombing of a drama theater in Mariupol that had been used as a shelter.
Congressional leaders are preparing range of economic sanctions that would strip Russia and its ally Belarus of permanent normalized trade status and could even take aim at China, given U.S. warnings against that country of supporting Moscow.
That follows an impassioned plea for the U.S. to “do more” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Congress on Wednesday. President Joe Biden announced $1 billion in aid and weapons and labeled President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal,” while Russia’s leader vowed to cleanse the country of “traitors” sympathetic to the West.
Stocks had already been rising on Wednesday after the Chinese government said it would support its stock market and economy. The Bank of England, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates as well when it meets on Thursday.
On the economic calendar, jobless claims, building permits and housing starts for February are due, along with the Philly Fed manufacturing survey for March and later, February industrial production.