S&P 500, Nasdaq set for higher open as focus turns to tech earnings, Fed

FILE PHOTO: The Wall Street sign is pictured at the New York Stock exchange (NYSE) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 9, 2020.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were set to open slightly higher on Tuesday as investors geared up for earnings reports from Microsoft and Alphabet, while awaiting cues from the Federal Reserve on its monetary policy stance.

Shares of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) gained 0.4% each, while those of Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), slated to report this week, were also higher. The five companies combined account for about 40% of the S&P 500’s market capitalization.

“What we’re really looking forward to is guidance about where we’re going in the next six months to a year and that is going to set the tone for the markets,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

Overall earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to jump 34.3% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) dropped about 3% in premarket trading after it marginally beat analysts’ expectations for quarterly revenue, helped by a jump in environmental credit sales to other automakers and liquidating some bitcoins.

“Tesla is a special case. A lot of the gains for the company were driven by its bitcoin bet, which is a sideline. It’s good that it sold a lot of cars, but it didn’t make a lot of money from the cars,” Forrest said.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended at record levels on Monday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq completing a full recovery from its 11% correction that began in February.

Recent data indicating that the U.S. economy was set for a strong rebound, backed by vaccine distributions and unprecedented monetary and fiscal support, has provided much of that support.

The Fed is not expected to change its policy guidance at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday but could shine some light on U.S. central bank’s thinking on inflation, bond buying and risks to the financial system posed by soaring asset prices.

At 08:40 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were down 5 points, or 0.01%, S&P 500 E-minis were up 4.25 points, or 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 25.25 points, or 0.18%.

United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) jumped about 8% after it topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, as the world’s biggest parcel delivery company benefited from a surge in online purchases.

General Electric (GE.N) fell 2.7% as it saw less cash outflow than estimated in the first quarter.

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