US stock futures rise after Big Tech earnings reassure investors, with energy in focus as Putin squeezes Europe

  • US futures climbed on Wednesday after Alphabet and Microsoft posted better-than-feared earnings.
  • Commodity prices rallied as Russia cut gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
  • Investors are now nervously eyeing the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s July meeting.

Stocks traded higher on Wednesday as second-quarter earnings encouraged investors, who will now turn their attention to the Federal Open Market Committee’s July meeting, which concludes later in the day.

Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet both earnings on Tuesday that missed analyst expectations, but were better than many investors had initially feared, which helped US futures to climb in early-morning trading.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq performed particularly strongly, with futures contracts up 1.60%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures and S&P 500 futures also rallied, climbing 0.49% and 0.98%, respectively.

Analysts said that the latest rally could represent a pivotal moment for the S&P 500 in particular, after the index closed at 3,967 points Tuesday.

“It’s make-or-break time,” brokerage Pepperstone’s head of research Chris Weston said. “While the current price on our charts represents the strong after-hours performance from Microsoft and Alphabet, the bulls need the index to push through 4000 – where potentially we can see a trend develop.”

Investors’ eyes will now turn to the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting. The US central bank will announce whether its raising interest rates today – with most markets pricing in a second consecutive hike of 75 basis points. The question remains over what policymakers will signal about their outlook for the remainder of the year, both in terms of growth and inflation expectations.

“With so many moving parts to consider, we expect markets to remain volatile after the FOMC meeting,” UBS’s chief investment officer Mark Haefele said. “We continue to advise investors to ensure their portfolios remain robust under a range of scenarios.”

Global stocks also climbed after Big Tech earnings were released, with the MSCI World Index up 0.03%.

European stocks led that rally, with the continent’s flagship Stoxx 600 index up 0.34%. Paris’s CAC 40, Frankfurt’s DAX 40 and London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.24%, 0.01%, and 0.38% respectively.

But the region is also teetering on the verge of a potential energy crisis as Russia slashed flows of natural gas through the Nord Stream system to just 20% of the pipeline’s total capacity.

Commodities surged in the aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s latest move against foreign political opponents. Brent crude oil jumped 1.05% to $100.50 a barrel, while TTF natural gas futures soared 11% to above 222 euros per megawatt hour, within sight of the record highs above 300 euros posted just after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Burgeoning energy and political crises in Europe, and the specter of the Fed pouring cold water on the recent dovish repricing of its policy weighed on risk yesterday.” Deutsche Bank managing director Jim Reid said. “It was a bad day for the gas crisis in Europe, ultimately seeing European natural gas futures climb to their highest since the aftermath of the invasion.”

Elsewhere, Asian stocks performed unevenly. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 closed up 0.22%, but the Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.05% and 1.25%, respectively.

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