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U.S. futures tick higher, consumer confidence survey ahead – what’s moving markets


U.S. Stock Futures Rise as Traders Return Post-Holiday

U.S. stock futures are pointing higher as traders return to their desks after the public holiday on Monday. Key events this week include the release of the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure and a dwindling stream of corporate earnings reports, offering insights into the health of the American consumer.

1. Futures Inch Up

U.S. stock futures edged higher on Tuesday, with investors anticipating key inflation data during this shortened trading week. By 03:26 ET (07:26 GMT), S&P 500 futures had added 9 points or 0.2%, Nasdaq 100 futures had gained 58 points or 0.3%, and Dow futures had climbed by 40 points or 0.1%. U.S. stock markets were closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

The highlight of this week’s economic calendar is May’s personal consumption expenditures price index, due on Friday. This index is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation. Recent statements from Fed officials suggest they seek more evidence that price gains are cooling towards the 2% target before considering any interest rate cuts this year.

2. Consumer Confidence Data Ahead

Tuesday’s relatively light economic release schedule includes the latest Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey. Analysts expect the May figure to slightly drop to 96.0 from 97.0 in April. The index hit a 1.5-year low in April as Americans worried about high prices for essentials like food and gas, as well as job availability and income stability.

Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at the Conference Board, stated, “Confidence retreated further in April […] as consumers became less positive about the current labor market situation.”

3. Earnings Season Slows

The pace of quarterly earnings reports is slowing, but several companies are still set to release their results in the coming days. Salesforce (NYSE


) will report after the market closes on Wednesday, with analysts at Goldman Sachs expecting it to meet Wall Street expectations due to a recovery in spending by small- and medium-sized businesses.

Additionally, Costco Wholesale Corp (NASDAQ


) and Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ


) will provide further insights into U.S. consumer spending when they report on Thursday. Consumers have recently shown signs of reducing expenditures on nonessential items due to persistent inflation and higher interest rates.

4. Alibaba Health Surges

Shares of Alibaba Health Information Technology (HK:0241) in Hong Kong surged on Tuesday after the company reported a significant increase in annual earnings driven by improved margins and strong demand for healthcare services and pharmaceuticals. The firm, acquired by Alibaba Group (NYSE


) in 2014, posted a nearly 91% rise in adjusted net profit to 1.44 billion yuan ($200 million) for the year ending March 31. Revenue increased by about 1% to 27.03 billion yuan, with the company benefiting from better margins, especially in online healthcare services and pharmaceutical sales.

5. Oil Prices Steady

Crude prices hovered around the flatline, rebounding from recent losses ahead of a meeting by major producers to decide future output levels. By 03:23 ET, U.S. crude futures (WTI) were up 0.2% to $78.72 a barrel, while Brent crude traded down by 0.1% at $82.83 per barrel. Oil prices had risen over 1% on Monday in muted trade due to public holidays in the U.K. and U.S., after hitting their lowest levels since early February last week.

All eyes are on the upcoming OPEC+ meeting on June 2, where the cartel will decide whether to extend its current voluntary production cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second half of the year.

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